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Lists What are lists? Despite the continued illegality of on-demand abortion in Latin America, except in Cuba and now Mexico City, it is the region with the world's highest abortion rates Browner ; Htun ; Scrimshaw But until recently, there has been no move to decriminalize abortion.

In her survey of reproductive and family law in Latin America, Mala Htun argues that because clandestine abortion is available and relatively safe for those with money, there has been little impetus for legalization Htun ; see also Mooney , Recently abortion was legalized in Mexico City, and in Colombia, feminist activists and lawyers have succeeded in decriminalizing abortion to varying degrees. Their arguments for decriminalization center on a right to public health rather than the North American concept of the right to choose Morgan and Roberts , forthcoming.

In Ecuador the legislature and the judiciary are intensely engaged in abortion politics, as exemplified by their positions against legal abortion and for the protection of life from conception. Clandestine abortion is nevertheless ubiquitous and relatively easy to obtain.

The WHO estimates that 95, abortions take place in Ecuador every year, a rate of 30 per 1, women of fertile age. Each year 20, to 30, women are admitted to clinics and emergency rooms with complications arising from botched abortions, and abortions cause 18 percent of maternal fatalities in Ecuador.

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This rate might start to fall as the use of misoprostol, a medication officially used for the treatment of peptic ulcers but also effective as an abortifacient, becomes more common throughout the region. Like several researchers, I found that most urban Ecuadorians I surveyed had ambivalent attitudes toward abortion Morgan Most thought it was wrong but deemed it acceptable in individual situations, especially for young women, in cases involving rape or a damaged fetus.

In these cases, my informants believed, women could negotiate with God for pardon. One IVF patient told me that when she developed toxoplasmosis in an earlier pregnancy she had an abortion because of the possibility of birth defects.

Her priest told her that God forgave her. Most women knew at least one friend or relative who had undergone an abortion.

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Only a few women and men involved with IVF thought abortion was always wrong: a few told me it was "assassination" in all cases. In general, urban Ecuadorians didn't want to appear extreme on the issue. During my year of resident fieldwork in —3, I scanned the newspaper every day for articles related to assisted reproductive technologies, population issues, abortion, and family planning.

Gods Laboratory Assisted Reproduction in the Andes

I found several every week. On a return trip in , I discovered an explosion of articles in response to a legislative battle about the morning-after pill. At the same time, graffiti about abortion, condoms, and the morning-after pill appeared on street walls throughout Quito.

Various groups, including local and transnational right-to-life and feminist organizations, were gearing up for a fight about the new constitution, which was ratified in the fall of The final draft of the constitution guaranteed the right to "take free, responsible, and informed decisions about one's health and reproductive life and to decide how many children to have" but continued to outlaw abortion in Article 66, Number No one was happy with this outcome. The Catholic Church denounced the constitution as anti-life, while feminist groups denounced it as a threat to reproductive health.

President Rafael Correa, who backed the constitution, remained on record as opposing legal abortion.

6. The IVF Laboratory

Throughout the s several Latin American legal codes were revised to define life as beginning at the moment of conception, not at birth. Ecuadorian state and church institutions participated in a newly energized mandate to protect human life promulgated by the globalized right-to life-movement, through rights-based arguments. In recent legislative battles, the reproductive rights of individual women have been pitted against the right to life of the unborn. As in other Latin American nations, laws and policies on abortion have become more restrictive at the same time that laws providing free maternity care have been enacted under the banner of the right to reproductive health Hermida et al.

In Andean nations, the resources for free maternity care tend to be channeled into public-sector health care, not social security, which provides for the employed middle class—once again making poor and indigenous women the targets of intervention and reproductive governance Ewig The shift in the discourse of reproductive governance, from issues of population and race to those of rights and life, was manifested through a host of complex material and political forces in Latin America.

Internationally, rights-based discourses have flourished in the context of economic policies that promote the expansion of private-sector medicine, and they have pitted citizens against states in the legal arena, where rights can be debated. Duke University Press. This content is made freely available by the publisher. It may not be redistributed or altered. All rights reserved. Publication date:.

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