President Luis Abinader said in a recent interview with El Pais, a leading Spanish newspaper, that he supports the adoption of three exceptions to the country’s criminalization of abortion. Ex-President Danilo Medina held the same position.
Nevertheless, lawmakers succumbed to pressure from conservative groups, most notably the Catholic and Christian churches of the Dominican Republic. Even with the emergence of a new majority party in Congress today, nothing seems to have changed in Congress. The House of Deputies Justice Commission is studying abortion articles in the Criminal Code and is due to give its opinion this week. Then the debate will go to the assembly hall for voting.
To understand the evolution of the problem of abortion in the Dominican Republic, it is necessary to go back to 2014. In December 2014, former President Danilo Medina (PLD) enacted a reform of the Penal Code (Law 550-14) to de-criminalize abortion in three cases: when a woman’s life is in danger, in cases of rape and incest, and when there are clinically proven fetal malformations incompatible with life. This reform was a big step forward in ensuring access to legal and safe abortion in the country for all women.
Subsequently, conservative groups filed three claims on the unconstitutionality of articles of the Criminal Code regulating these grounds, which were due to enter into force in December 2015. However, the Constitutional Court accepted the arguments of conservatives and their decision to limit women’s access to safe abortion services in cases previously established. Continued criminalization of abortion, and the law provides for a penalty of imprisonment up to 20 years for abortion.
TV half-hour debate on the Esta Noche con Mariasela (Channel 9) February 2, 2021 has shown how politicians are in favor of the three exceptions, but then contradict their actions. Gustavo Sanchez (Party of Liberation Dominican Republic – PLD), Julio Fulkar (the ruling Party of the modern revolution – PRM) and Ruben Maldonado (People’s strength – FP) supported the position of the individual in relation to the bill.
However, on the TV program, Gustavo Sánchez and José Horacio Rodriguez of Alianza País – AlPais) advocated the deletion of the criminalization of abortion in the Criminal Code in order to vote for a separate abortion law.
Wikipedia explains well the abortion situation in the Dominican Republic. It says:
“Abortion in the Dominican Republic is completely prohibited. The Dominican Republic is one of the few countries in the world where abortion is completely prohibited, without exception, to save the mother’s life.
“Abortion has been constitutionally prohibited since September 18, 2009, when a constitutional amendment proclaiming the right to life “inviolable from conception to death” was approved by Congress by a majority vote of 128 to 34. Until October 2012, women could speak. for treatment without fear of arrest. Dr. Milton Cordero [he passed away in 2019] has worked in state hospitals in the republic since 1980, treating women who have had abortions: he estimates that there are 90,000 illegal abortions a year. These illegal abortions are done by yourself or by practitioners from the back streets. Since the adoption of the law, abortion has become the third leading cause of maternal mortality in the country.”