On Wednesday, the Virgin de Panecillo statue in Ecuador flew a banner with the text “safe abortion” and the phone number for a hotline that provides women with information regarding safe medical and surgical abortions. The banner was prepared by a coordinator of Women on Waves, the group that runs the safe abortion hotline.
Women on Waves is a Dutch non-profit organization that seeks to prevent unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions. Women on Waves has recently completed successful programs in Portugal, Ireland, Poland and Argentina. They are currently in Ecuador at the invitation of the Youth Committee for Gender Equity, working to liberalize abortion law and providing counseling and medical assistance to women in need. The World Health Organization estimates that 95,000 abortion take place per year in Ecuador, most of which are illegal. Unsafe abortions are responsible for 18% of maternal deaths in Ecuador.