Paula Merchan, Ecuador correspondent


‘Treacherous’: Ecuador president pledges penalties for party members who proposed abortion bill

Paula Merchan, Ecuador correspondent

QUITO, October 21, 2013 ( – President Rafael Correa of Ecuador is calling for “strong penalties” for members of his own party that attempted to push forward a bill that would legalize abortion.

Thanks to public pressure and President Correa´s announcement of that he would resign as president if abortion were legalized, assemblywoman Paola Pabón withdrew the motion she presented seeking to decriminalize abortion in cases of rape.

Ecuador´s law currently permits abortion when the mother´s life is in danger or if pregnancy occurs after the rape of a mentally handicapped woman.

Correa´s action drew strong reactions on both sides. Feminist groups denounced him as authoritarian or even dictatorial. However, Catholic bishops and protestant pastors applauded Correa´s decision. 

“The Church will not change its doctrine about human life from conception as God´s gift having a sacred character that we have a responsibility to protect,” said monsignor Antonio Arregui, president of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference.

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The supporters of the pro-abortion proposal were members of Correa´s Party, Alianza País (AP). The president denounced them as “treacherous and disloyal”, noting that they betrayed the principles and values of the Party. In his weekly broadcast on television and radio, “Enlace Ciudadano”, where he recaps that week’s highlights on national matters, he said, “I am going to ask for strong penalties for some assemblywomen that participated in this disloyalty”.

Rafael Correa, who was a Catholic missionary in the indigenous town Zumbahua, defines himself as a liberal politician, but conservative on moral issues. “For me, one of the biggest crimes that can be committed is the one against the most defenseless being, the embryo, the fetus,” he concluded.