On Monday, January 10, 2022, the Justice Commission of the National Assembly restarted deliberations on a draft of the Organic Law project to guarantee the right to voluntary interruption of pregnancy in the event of rape.
A source from the Commission says that a draft of the report was discussed for a second debate, after having passed the first debate in 2021.
During the legislative recess at the end of the year, an advisory team synthesized all the contributions of the assembly members in the first debate and systematized those made by experts in new appearances on the critical issues in the bill.
Among those critical points are temporality, requirements and conscientious objection, the source explained, adding that the vote on the report for the second debate was expected to be on January 5th, but it was postponed because observations continued to arrive that had to be included in the document.
The debate lasted all day, and it is likely that the vote on the report will take place on Wednesday the 12th. In the general planning, the vote in the plenary session of the National Assembly will likely happen between the 20th and 25th of January.
The draft “Organic Law to guarantee the right to voluntary interruption of pregnancy in case of rape” has been processed “with the highest sense of responsibility and in strict compliance with the provisions of the Constitution and the rules that govern the first function of the State,” the Commission pointed out.
Path to passage of abortion for rape act
In April 2021, the Constitutional Court gave way to the decriminalization of abortion in cases of rape. The Court ruling ordered the National Assembly to approve a bill to regulate the process.
The Assembly had until December 28, 2021, to approve said law. However, it missed the deadline, and as of today, January 10, 2022, the law has not yet been approved.
This chronology explains how the process for the approval of the abortion law due to rape has progressed.
April 28, 2021
The Constitutional Court – the highest court in the country – decriminalized abortion for rape. The Court decided a case that grouped six actions of unconstitutionality on the criminalization of abortion in cases of rape.
The actions were presented by different groups, organizations and human rights defenders against articles 149 and 150 of the Comprehensive Organic Penal Code (COIP). Number 149 repressed women who consented to have an abortion. Article 150 established two exceptions to the state repression of abortion. The Court ruled that both articles were unconstitutional and decriminalized abortion in cases of rape.
In the ruling, the Constitutional Court forced the Office of the Ombudsman to write and present a bill that regulates the process so that the Assembly can then debate and approve it. The Ombudsman’s Office had a period of two months – after the sentence – to present the bill. And the Assembly had six months to debate the bill and pass it.
May 26-27, 2021
Civil society organizations participated in events and meetings called by the Ombudsman’s Office to collaborate in the preparation of the proposed bill on abortion for rape. On May 26th, the surrogate Ombudsman, Zaida Rovira, met with social organizations, feminists, and LGBTI groups to hear their proposals on the bill.
On May 27th, Rovira met in the port city of Guayaquil, with the leaders of organizations that promote women’s rights. In the event, the experts presented several proposals that, they considered, should be included in the bill that would regulate the voluntary legal interruption of pregnancy in cases of rape.
June 28, 2021
On the day of the deadline granted by the Constitutional Court for the Ombudsman to present the project to the National Assembly, the Ombudsman’s Office presented it and handed over the bill for the ‘Voluntary Legal Interruption of Pregnancy for Rape.’
Zaida Rovira, surrogate Ombudsman, said that the project was carried out with the support of national and international experts, social groups and citizens.
The bill presented by the Ombudsman’s Office defined the requirements to access an abortion in the event of a pregnancy resulting from rape. In addition, it established what the rights are of people who became pregnant after a violation. It also detailed some of the responsibilities that health personnel have to guarantee abortion treatment to rape survivors who wish to access one.
After the presentation of the project, it had to be qualified by the Council of Legislative Administration (CAL) of the National Assembly.
August 17, 2021
The Legislative Administration Council (CAL) qualified the bill for the Voluntary Legal Interruption of Pregnancy for Rape.
It did so 50 days after the Ombudsman’s Office presented the bill. The deadline was 30 days, but it was not met.
Once qualified, the project passed to the Commission for Justice and State Structure of the National Assembly, chaired by Alejandro Jaramillo, of the Democratic Left. This commission had to work on the report for the first debate. To make the report, the assembly members of the Commission received civil society organizations and experts to advise on the matter.
October 27, 2021
The assemblyman for Pachakutik, Ricardo Vanegas, presented the Organic Law project to ‘Harmonize the protection of human life from conception with the decriminalization of consensual abortion in cases of rape.’
The bill presented by Vanegas sought to regulate abortion for rape with a view away from human rights and against the provisions of the Constitutional Court. He was supported by eleven assembly members from different benches: Vanessa Freire, Pierina Correa, Esteban Torres, César Rohon, Christian Omar Yucailla, Eckener Recalde, Edgar Patricio Quezada, Geraldine Weber, Isabel María Enríquez, Jessica Castillo, Marlon Cadena.
November 29, 2021
The Legislative Administration Council (CAL) learned about the Organic Law project to ‘Harmonize the protection of human life from conception with the decriminalization of consensual abortion in cases of rape,’ prepared and presented by Assemblyman Ricardo Vanegas.
The report did not have the necessary votes to either approve or archive it, so the CAL can revert to it in other sessions if it so wishes. Human rights organizations and other experts say that said bill is unconstitutional and goes against the ruling of the Constitutional Court – the highest court in the country.
December 2, 2021
The Justice Commission approved the report for the first debate on the bill for the ‘Voluntary Legal Interruption of Pregnancy due to Rape.’ The Commission then sent the report to the president of the National Assembly, Guadalupe Llori, so that she could set a date for the first debate on the project in plenary.
Llori summoned the assembly members for 9:30 a.m. on December 9th for the first debate on the bill’s report.
December 9, 2021
The plenary session of the National Assembly debated for the first time on the bill with which it must comply with the ruling of the Constitutional Court that decriminalized abortion for rape. In the first debate, the assembly members were not to vote on the project.
Before starting the first debate, the Assembly received representatives of organizations and experts who spoke about abortion and the need to comply with the Constitutional Court ruling.
Although the debate should have focused on the bill and the possible reforms for its approval, some ultra-conservative assembly members tried to position the debate as if the decriminalization of abortion had been discussed, although that was not what was being discussed. Even though the law has not yet been passed, aborting in cases of rape is no longer a crime.
December 28, 2021
The term established by the Constitutional Court for the National Assembly to approve the abortion for rape law expired. However, the Assembly did not approve the law in the established time because the legislators had been in recess since mid-December and the bill had only been debated once.
A regulation on the processes of the Constitutional Court says that in order to determine whether a sentence has been breached, a follow-up phase of the sentence must be activated. If in this phase the Court concludes that it was not complied with, it can apply sanctions to the public authorities and even order their dismissal.
The Constitutional Court says that “it has not yet started the follow-up phase” in this case, so they still cannot say that the sentence has been breached or not.
Although the deadline for passing the law has already expired, the law must be passed.