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Ecuador legislature votes against decriminalizing abortion

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Activists backing the depenalization of abortion hold a demonstration outside the Ecuadorean Congress building while the voting on changes to criminal code, including decriminalizing abortion in cases of rape, is taking place, in Quito on September 17, 2019. – In the framework of the debate on criminal reforms, including one that would broaden the grounds for ending a pregnancy, social groups proposed the decriminalization of abortion for all cases of rape. Feminist groups hold that every year about 2,500 teenagers give birth in the country as a result of sexual attacks. (Photo by Rodrigo BUENDIA / AFP)

Ecuador’s National Assembly voted Tuesday against decriminalizing abortion in all cases of rape and for fetal malformation.

A decriminalization proposal fell five votes short of the 70 required for its approval, with 59 assembly members voting against and six refrainings.

In Ecuador, a woman who causes abortion or allows abortion to be performed on her faces six months to two years in prison, according to a law in place since 2014.

Demonstrators who had been in favour of the plan gathered outside the National Assembly after the vote, some trying to tear down metal fences around the building.

Police dispersed the crowd with pepper spray.

In Ecuador, a conservative country with an 80 percent Catholic population, abortion is only allowed when the life or health of the mother is at risk or if a pregnancy is the result of the rape of a woman with a mental disability.

Groups in favour of decriminalizing abortion in all cases of rape claim some 2,500 teenagers give birth as a result of sexual assault in Ecuador every year.

Some in the country opposed decriminalization on religious grounds, claiming it would endanger innocent lives.


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