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LATIN AMERICA | 28-04-2021 21:28

Ecuador court decriminalises abortion in rape cases

Ecuador's Constitutional Court decriminalises abortion in cases of rape, a major step in Catholic-majority Latin America where termination of pregnancy is largely taboo.

Ecuador's Constitutional Court on Wednesday decriminalised abortion in cases of rape, the country's human rights ombudsman announced, a major step in Catholic-majority Latin America where termination of pregnancy is largely taboo.

Ombudsman Freddy Carrion announced the court's decision on Twitter, and said the ruling "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, a woman risks up to three years in prison for having an abortion.

The procedure is only allowed when a woman's life or health is at risk or if a pregnancy is the result of the rape of a woman with a mental disability.

In 2019, the National Assembly had voted against decriminalising abortion in other cases of rape or foetal malformation. 

Throughout Latin America, women's rights organisations have been pushing for a change in abortion laws.

In January this year, Argentina became only the fourth country in the region – after Cuba, Guyana and Uruguay – to authorise selective termination of pregnancy.

Carrion's office said the court's decision was taken with seven votes to two.

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

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