Dominican Republic Approves Constitutional Amendment to Outlaw Abortion

Dominican lawmakers voted recently to approve a constitutional amendment that would effectively end legal abortion in the country. Assembly members approved the new Executive Branch article, which states that, “The right to the life is inviolable from conception until death.”

Aldrian Almonte, president of the Dominican Gynecology and Obstetrics Society has warned that the number of maternal deaths will increase considerably once the new laws are enforced and women are no longer able to gain access to safe and medically supervised abortions. Even if the pregnancy endangers a woman’s life, abortion will no longer be a feasible option for physicians. “I would like the honorable legislators to tell me: What are we going to do before the presence of a woman with severe eclampsia, convulsing in any emergency room around the country? What must we do, see her die to protect ourselves from the repercussions this law stipulates?” Almonte asked.

The constitutional amendment was passed despite constant and vocal objections of feminist and human rights organizations and makes abortion illegal even in the most horrific cases of incest or rape. The approval of the article came on the heels of a massive campaign by the Catholic Church in the Dominican Republic, led by Cardinal Archbishop Nicolas de Jesus Lopez of Santo Domingo.

Miguel Ceara Hatton, a coordinator for the United Nations Program for Human Development, has strongly criticized the lawmakers and the undue influence the Catholic Church has in setting the political agenda in the DR. “The Catholic Church influences
has become a source for social exclusion in the Dominican
Republic. The dogma is placed ahead of the needs of the population,
health, housing and better living conditions.”