In Ecuador, it’s a fight for (all) life

With their demands against the decriminalization of abortion, Catholic eco-advocates in Ecuador are demonstrating that we can fight for both human life and creation

As Catholic pro-life advocates converge this week on Washington, D. C., for the annual March for Life, their brothers and sisters in Ecuador are fighting efforts to decriminalize abortion in that country. Among many Catholic groups joining the Ecuadorian fight is the nation’s chapter of the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

GCCM Ecuador is petitioning its National Assembly against proposed changes to its Integral Criminal Code, also known as the Comprehensive Organic Criminal Code. Such a change would run counter to Article 45 of the nation's constitution, which recognizes a human being’s right to life from the moment of conception.

In 2008, Ecuador received international attention when it added specific rights to its constitution to nature itself. Should the current proposal pass to decriminalize abortion in cases involving incest, rape, and "non-viable" fetal defects, ecosystems would have more rights than specific classes of pre-born children.

"We strongly reject any cause to decriminalize abortion," the GCCM petition states, "and we call for legislation in favor of all vulnerable people so that their life will be fully protected."

The GCCM petition calls on Ecuador’s legislature “to firmly reject any aggression against life from its origin, either because of economic interests of extractive projects that do not consider the communities that inhabit these territories,” or because of economic pressures by international business and organizations.“An integral ecology cares for the living being that we can see, like plants and animals, but also the living beings that we cannot see, like unborn children,” Ana Ortega, an Environmental Engineer and Associate Coordinator of GCCM Ecuador, told Catholic Ecology.

“We believe that addressing violence with a violent act will only generate more violence,” the petition states. “Rather, we appeal to proposals for comprehensive programs that protect the life of the woman and the unborn child.”

GCCM Ecuador is inviting all people to sign their petition as a show of support.

Dayana Baño, an optometrist and treasurer of GCCM Ecuador, told Catholic Ecology that the group is fighting against the proposed decriminalization of abortion because "all life requires responsibility and care, from the moment of conception.” Baño said that should the decriminalization of abortion pass, “we’ve failed in our obligation as custodians of living beings."

"We strongly reject any cause to decriminalize abortion," the GCCM petition states, "and we call for legislation in favor of all vulnerable people so that their life will be fully protected."

By linking issues such as abortion, the treatment of indigenous peoples, and the ecological and social impacts of various industrial practices, the men and women of GCCM Ecuador are demonstrating what many US Catholics struggle with: living and advocating for the "everything is connected" teachings within Laudato Si’—teachings that were also expressed by Pope Francis’s predecessors.

Last week, Pope Francis framed the importance of working for multiple life issues in his address to the Pontifical Academy for Life.

As an example of the academy’s “constant effort to promote and protect human life at every stage of its development,” the Holy Father cited “its condemnation of abortion and euthanasia as extremely grave evils that contradict the Spirit of life and plunge us into the anti-culture of death. These efforts must certainly continue, with an eye to emerging issues and challenges that can serve as an opportunity for us to grow in the faith, to understand it more deeply and to communicate it more effectively to the people of our time.”

This is exactly the point Benedict XVI made in Caritas in Veritate when he said that

[o]ur duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. Herein lies a grave contradiction in our mentality and practice today: one which demeans the person, disrupts the environment, and damages society.

And so as Catholics (and so many others) in the United States take to the streets for the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, let us pray for our brothers and sisters in Ecuador as they ramp up their fight for life.

While we’re at it, let’s applaud them, too, for so seamlessly and fervently living out the teachings of Laudato Si’ and those of Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI—teachings that integrate issues of human life, the environment, and the care for all people, everywhere.

And last, let's support our brothers and sisters by signing their petition now!

Saint Mariana Paredes y Flores, The Lily of Quito, pray for us!

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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.