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Ecuador's lawmakers vote against decriminalizing abortion for cases of rape, fetal malformation

Daniel Tapia, REUTERS | Pro-choice demonstrators react during a protest outside the National Assembly as lawmakers hold a session to vote on legalizing abortion in cases of rape, in Quito, Ecuador September 17, 2019.

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

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

In Ecuador, a woman who causes an abortion or allows an 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 favor 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 favor 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.

(AFP)

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