Ecuador decriminalizes abortion in rape cases

Quito, Ecuador: Ecuador's Constitutional Court decriminalized abortion in rape cases on Wednesday, the country's human rights ombudsman reported a significant development in Catholic-majority Latin America, where abortion is largely prohibited.

On Twitter, Ombudsman Freddy Carrion confirmed the court's decision, saying it "was possible thanks to the women and feminist groups who have consistently battled for a more fair and egalitarian society."

In Ecuador, a conservative country with an 80 percent Catholic population, having an abortion will result in up to three years in jail.

The operation is only permitted when a woman's life or health is in danger, or when a pregnancy results from the abuse of a woman with a mental disability.

The National Assembly voted against decriminalizing abortion in cases of rape or fetal malformation in 2019.

Women's rights groups in Latin America have been advocating for reform in abortion laws.

Argentina became only the fourth country in the region, after Cuba, Guyana, and Uruguay, to legalize elective abortion in January of this year.

According to Carrion's office, the court's decision was made by a majority of seven to two.

"From today, no raped woman will be criminalized," it said.

According to the ombudsman's office, six girls have abortions every day in Ecuador.

Pregnancies for women under the age of 14 were caused by sexual harassment in 80 percent of cases.

According to local feminist organizations, approximately 2,500 girls under the age of 14 give birth in Ecuador each year after being raped.

President-elect Guillermo Lasso, a conservative Catholic and outspoken pro-life supporter who takes office on May 24 have said that he "completely respects" the court's decision.

"The independence of the government branches and the secular nature of the state are principles that cannot be negotiated," he said in a statement.

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