Ecuador’s Crackdown on Abortion Is Putting Women in Jail
For decades, abortion was considered a private matter. Now, a Nation investigation shows, women who terminate—or lose—pregnancies are facing prosecution and prison time.
By Zoë Carpenter
May 7, 2019 (May 20-27 Issue, The Nation)
Last year, a lawyer named Cristina Torres got a cryptic phone call from a young woman. The caller explained that she was contacting Torres on behalf of her mother, Sara (a pseudonym), who was imprisoned in the city of Latacunga, a windy crossroads on the Pan-American Highway, high on the volcanic plateau of central Ecuador. Sara was hoping to secure a form of legal relief that would allow her to serve part of her remaining sentence outside of detention. The woman asked Torres to take on her mother’s case—but as for the crime that Sara had been charged with, the daughter preferred not to speak of it. Just go visit my mother, she pleaded.
So Torres drove to Latacunga and, in the prison’s visiting room, met a tall woman with an upturned nose and honey-colored eyes. As Torres would learn, she’d had a difficult life. As a teenager, Sara said, she was raped by her aunt’s husband and became pregnant.