Read, Debate: Engage.
Support projects & petitions
June 24, 2019

Las Comadres help Ecuadorian women access safe abortion amidst gov’t crackdown

type: Donation, NGO
by: Yair Oded

Over the past decade, the Ecuadorian authorities began to enforce the 1938 ban on abortions in the country, and dozens of women have since been prosecuted and jailed for terminating their pregnancies (even in cases where the mother’s health was at risk).

And while recent developments indicate that the tide might be turning - hope that abortions will be decriminalized in Ecuador remains dim. Thus, with no other alternative, many Ecuadorian women resort to clandestine, illegal abortion clinics which are both prohibitively expensive and highly risky.

Unsafe abortion is currently one of the leading causes of injury among women and maternal deaths in Ecuador.

Founded in 2015 by a group of Ecuadorian and other Latin American women, Las Comadres (The Godmothers) is a network of women who volunteer to assist other women in accessing safe self-induced abortion, support them throughout the process, and help them avoid prosecution.

The organization currently operates in several cities around Ecuador - including Quito, Cuenca, and Esmeraldas, and operates a hotline (+99-888-333-9) which receives dozens of calls on any given day from women who need help accessing safe abortions.

Members of the organization inform women about affordable and safe medications that can be self-induced to terminate their pregnancy, guide them on how to evade legal challenges from the state, connect them with a Dutch NGO that provides the medication and facilitate the delivery of the pills, and accompany the women either in person or via telephone before, during, and after the abortion process itself.

Las Comadres charge a minimal fee to cover the costs of procuring and ordering the pills, and they accept donations in order to ensure that women who may face health risks could access procedures such as ultrasounds, etc.

While the act of abortion itself remains illicit in Ecuador, disseminating information about it is perfectly legal. Las Comadres utilise this loophole in order to dispel the stigma surrounding abortion and empower women - what they hope would bring about a systemic change as well in the future. They do so by holding information sessions and gatherings with women who seek their help at public spaces, such as parks and markets. In an interview for The Nation, Las Comadres volunteer Tamia Maldonado stated that, “Being open is important, to destigmatize abortion socially… meeting face-to-face is a way to bring abortion out of the shadows.”

If you or anyone you know in Ecuador needs assistance or guidance regarding abortion please visit Las Comadres website or Facebook page (the website is in Spanish but can be translated in a click through the web browser).

Please consider donating to Las Comadres and supporting Ecuadorian women as they fight to retain their rights over their bodies.

Image credit: Pulitzer Center