Abortion in Ecuador

Abortion in Ecuador is regulated. In 2021, it decriminalized abortion in all cases of rape, and determined that anyone pregnant as a result of rape has the right to access non-punishable abortion care and should not be criminalized for terminating a pregnancy.

What does the law say in Ecuador?     

Abortion Rights in Ecuador

“Abortion performed by a physician or other qualified health professional, with the consent of the woman or her spouse, partner, intimate relatives or her legal representative, when she is not in a position to give it, shall not be punishable in the following cases: 1. if it has been practiced to avoid a danger to the life or health of the pregnant woman, and if this danger cannot be avoided by other means. 2. If the pregnancy is a consequence of rape in a woman who suffers from mental disability.”

Código Orgánico Integral Penal Integral, COIP, in Art.150

Induced abortion is still regulated as a crime in the COIP in Art. 150 and has a minimum of one year of detention; there are only two cases in which a person can access abortion services without being sanctioned:

  • The life or health of the pregnant person is at risk (which is known as “causal health” or “therapeutic abortion”).
  • When the pregnancy is the result of rape. [2]

In Ecuador, to have a legal abortion, it is necessary to resort to public or private health services, which are obliged to analyze the case and resolve it within 6 days. Therefore, legal abortion in any of the two recognized grounds is a free procedure that the National Health System must guarantee. [7]

On April 28, 2021, the Constitutional Court of Ecuador decriminalized abortion in all cases of rape and determined that anyone pregnant due to rape has the right to access non-punishable abortion care and should not be criminalized for terminating a pregnancy. This is a landmark pronouncement that is based on the recognition of human rights. [4]

How many abortions are performed in Ecuador?

Data and numbers of abortions in Ecuador

According to the Anuario de Estadísticas de Salud: Camas y Egresos Hospitalarios (ESCEH) 21,939 women arrive at a hospital or health center to be treated for an abortion (spontaneous, medical, other or unspecified) each year. [4]

Number of abortion in Ecuador and number of young people who have unintended pregnancies and abortion.

Abortion with accompanying organizations

According to the most recent statistics available from the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC), in 2019, there were 911 cases in which abortion was determined to be legally permitted. While between 2004 and 2014, according to a study analyzing public data, there were an estimated 33,340 cases of post-abortion care in health facilities in which individuals were exposed to criminal prosecution. [2]

The figures shown in the tables are estimates made by the coordinators of the organizations. As there was no access to official records regarding the number of pregnant women they support.

What do people in Ecuador believe?  

Opinion on abortion in Ecuador

One month after the Supreme Court of Ecuador decriminalized abortion in case of rape, Statista Research Department concluded that most of the Ecuadorian population favored abortion in case of rape.

Regarding the opinion of Ecuadorians on the criminalization of women who have had an abortion, the majority responded that they disagree that a woman should go to jail if she has had an abortion. [5]

Abortion seekers in Ecuador

There is limited information available about who has access to legal abortion in Ecuador. There were 21,939 abortions registered by the public health system; however, thousands more unregistered abortions occur outside the health system, resulting in a high level of under-registration. Therefore, it is difficult to determine the number of safe self-managed abortions, unsafe abortions, and the characteristics of abortion seekers. As a result, there is no information to create effective health policies. [6]

What abortion services are available in Ecuador? 

Abortion Methods

LEGAL METHODS AVAILABLE
OTHER METHODS

Abortion with Misoprostol

Pfizer Cytotec 200 µg is the only brand of Misoprostol marketed in Ecuador. These pills are available in pharmacies with a prescription. However, stigma and lack of knowledge of proper protocols for the correct use of the drug hinder access and generate misinformation. The official cost of prescription pills in 2015 was US$12, 0.50 cents per pill. [7]

In-clinic abortions

Abortions in public and private health centers available in Ecuador are manual aspiration (MVA) and dilatation and curettage (D&C) abortions performed during the first trimester of pregnancy. They can cost between $60 and $3,000, depending on where they are completed (clinics/hospitals/private clinics) and the training of the person providing it; this information is from 2015, and prices may vary. [7]

Surkuna

It is a feminist organization founded in 2014 as a response to the criminalization of women for abortion and the demand of the feminist movement to have a legal organization that works for access to justice for women and girls in Ecuador.

Visit Surkuna

Legal restrictions on abortion create obstacles to accessing safe abortion methods. In Ecuador, people in need of abortion are forced to seek private clinics that offer clandestine purchases or use of traditional folk methods that are not recognized by the WHO (World Health Organization).

Abortion with pills and Telemedicine

Telemedicine is an effective and safe way to have an abortion. However, it is essential first to verify that the site is reliable and consult feminist networks such as Las Comadres or accredited health organizations such as WHO, PAHO, or FIGO on how to use the medication.

Women on Waves

It is a non-profit organization dedicated to women’s human rights; its mission is to prevent unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions worldwide. Women on Waves launched a hotline for women with unwanted pregnancies who require information about how to use of Misoprostol.

Which abortion pills are available in Ecuador?

  • Misoprostol – Cytotec, 200 µg. Pfizer [10]

How does the context affect abortion in Ecuador?              

Context and abortion

What is happening to the girls in Ecuador?

Between 2013 and 2016, 8,677 girls gave birth as a result of sexual violence. However, only 232 complaints of sexual violence were reported by healthcare centers, despite being a legal obligation, according to The Ministry of Health.

From 2009 to 2016, 17,448 girls under the age of fourteen gave birth in Ecuador.  Even they were victims of sexual violence, many of these cases were not registered. In this scenario, most cannot access care and redress. [1]

Girls in Ecuador suffer sexual violence and they are criminalized for abortions.

Women criminalized for abortion

Based on filings provided by Ecuador’s Attorney General’s Office to Human Rights Watch, from the beginning of 2014 until June 2019, the Prosecutor General’s Office filed charges for alleged consensual abortion in 286 cases. [2]

The criminalization of abortion does not affect all people equally. In the cases Human Rights Watch analyzed, it found that all the victims of criminalization came from economically marginalized regions or where there is a higher proportion of indigenous or Afro-descendant populations.

How did the pandemic influence abortion in Ecuador?

Impact of COVID-19

COVID-19 restrictions have had a direct impact on abortion access. Surkuna has documented 12 cases of denial of sexual and reproductive health services due to the pandemic restrictions, including, among other barriers, denial of access to legal abortion services. In 2020, sixteen national and international human rights and women’s rights organizations called the Ecuadorian government to recognize and prioritize access to legal abortions and emergency obstetric care as essential health services. [8][9]

Impact the COVID-19 in sexual health and reproductive rights

The number of abortions has decreased significantly compared to last year, which is clear evidence that the restrictions caused by the health crisis directly impacted the capacity and ability of individuals to access abortion and contraceptive services. [9]

What is the data gap in Ecuador?

What we don’t know

Although the health system has some data, NGOs provide more critical information. However, to draw a complete picture of the abortion situation in Ecuador, studies would require answering the following questions:

How many people are having abortions?
How many people are having unsafe abortions?
How many girls are forced to continue an at-risk pregnancy despite the law?
How many queer people are having abortions?
How many people know the abortion law?
How many people have their life projects affected by restrictions and barriers to abortion?

*This page presents abortion data only for women and girls since the information available is usually not separated by gender. However, AbortionData.org acknowledges this limitation.

 Where did we get the information?

Sources

[1] Acosta,A. and Aguilar, L. (2018) Revista Wambra.  [Online] Available at: http://clacaidigital.info/handle/123456789/1107

[2] Human Right Watch. (2021)Por qué me quieren volver hacer sufrir?”. https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/media_2021/07/ecuador0721sp_web.pdf

[3] Clacai. (2017) Mapeo “Uso y acceso a Misoprostol y

Mifepristona en tres países de América Latina: Argentina, Ecuador y Perú”.

[4] Wambra, R. (2019, 30 septiembre). Abortar en América Latina y el Caribe: acceso y obstáculos. Wambra Medio Comunitario. https://wambra.ec/abortar-en-america-latina-y-el-caribe/

[5] Cedatos. (2021). Opinan los ecuatorianos y hablan de las cifras oficiales. https://cedatos.com/2021/08/07/cedatos-opinan-los-ecuatorianos-y-hablan-las-cifras-oficiales/

[6] Wambra, R. (2019). Las 10 preguntas que te has hecho sobre el aborto. Wambra Medio Comunitario. https://wambra.ec/las-preguntas-que-te-has-hecho-sobre-el-aborto/

[7] HowToUseAbortionPill. (2015). Abortion in Ecuador costs & providers.

https://www.howtouseabortionpill.org/abortion-laws-by-country/ecuador/

[8] Women’s Link. (2020). Atención de emergencias obstétricas y acceso a abortos legales son servicios esenciales de salud, que se deben garantizar durante la pandemia de COVID-19.

https://www.womenslinkworldwide.org/informate/sala-de-prensa/atencion-de-emergencias-obstetricas-y-acceso-a-aborto-deben-ser-servicios-esenciales-de-salud-durante-la-pandemia-de-covid-19

[9] Clacai. (2021). Violencia sexual, embarazos forzados y acceso a servicios de salud en el contexto de la pandemia del COVID-19. 

http://clacaidigital.info/handle/123456789/1413

[10] Abortion in Ecuador | All you need to know about abortions. (s. f.-b). https://safe2choose.org/abortion-information/countries/ecuador

AbortionData.org

AbortionData.org

AbortionData.org is a platform to eliminate misinformation, myths, and fears surrounding abortion in the world by producing, sharing, and making accessible accurate information about abortion.

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