Unborn babies whose mothers are victims of rape now may be aborted under Ecuador law.
The BBC reports the country’s Constitutional Court issued a ruling this week that decriminalized abortions in cases of rape by declaring two sections of the penal code unconstitutional.
Ecuador, like most Central and South American countries, protects unborn babies from abortion. Until now, the law prohibited abortions except if the mother’s life was at risk or if the mother had a mental disability and was raped.
The decision this week resulted from a pro-abortion legal challenge. After the court announced its ruling, abortion activists celebrated in the streets of the nation’s capital, according to the report. One of the pro-abortion groups, the National Coalition of Women, praised the “historic” ruling but was not completely satisfied. Coalition leaders want Ecuador to legalize the killing of unborn babies for any reason up to birth.
Al Jazeera reports President-elect Guillermo Lasso, a Catholic, said he respects the ruling.
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“The independence of the government branches and the secular nature of the state are principles that cannot be negotiated,” Lasso responded in a statement.
Meanwhile, pro-life advocates mourned the news. Earlier in the week, the Catholic bishops in the country also sent a letter to the high court urging it to protect unborn babies, according to the Catholic News Agency.
The bishops said abortion is a crime that does nothing to solve the crime of rape or help its victims.
“The rapist must be treated with the maximum rigor of the law, especially if he is someone close to the victim, such as a relative, a friend, or an acquaintance,” they wrote.
In 2019, the Ecuadoran National Assembly rejected a bill to legalize abortions.
For years, powerful international groups have been pressuring Ecuador and other pro-life countries to legalize the killing of unborn babies. In 2015, the United Nations urged Ecuador to legalize abortions as part of an anti-discrimination treaty. Human Rights Watch did as well, describing abortion restrictions as “cruel” and “degrading” in a letter to a top political official.
More recently, human rights groups across Central and South America accused the United Nations last June of pressuring their countries to legalize the killing of unborn babies in abortions during the coronavirus crisis.
Legalizing abortion does not save lives or help women. Abortions destroy unborn babies’ lives and often harm mothers physically or psychologically. Pro-abortion groups often overestimate the number of illegal and unsafe abortions that occur in countries across the world. Growing research also indicates that access to basic health care, not abortion, is what really helps improve women’s lives.