Dominican Republic Passes Complete Ban on Abortion

RH Reality Check clues us into the horrible news that the Dominican Republic has approved an amendment to the Constitution that outlaws all abortion.  The amendment states that “the right to the life is inviolable from conception until death” — just not if you’re a woman who needs access to a safe medical procedure.  Even if you’ve been raped.  Even if your life is at risk.

The approval came despite the vocal outcry from feminists, doctors, the United Nations Program for Human Development, and the Dominican Gynecology and Obstetrics Society:

In that regard, the Dominican Gynecology and Obstetrics Society Wednesday warned that the number of maternal deaths will increase considerably, with the approval of the article that bans the interruption of pregnancies.

The entity’s president, Aldrian Almonte, said the current figure of 160 deaths for each 100,000 live births per year will increase, because doctors would be reluctant to proceed from fear of being charged in cases where they must decide on the interruption of a pregnancy to preserve the mother’s life.

“Those deaths are product of the unsafe abortions. I would like of the honorable legislators to tell me what are we going to do before the presence of a woman with severe preeclampsia or eclampsia, convulsing in any emergency room around the country, what must we do, see her die to protect ourselves from the repercussions that article 30 stipulates?,” he said.

Again, the amendment also does not include exceptions for rape/incest, or life of the mother.  Just as the influential Catholic Church would want it.  Because, and this cannot be repeated enough, the lives of women don’t matter.  At least not the lives of women “evil” enough to put themselves, their well-being, their health, above a pregnancy.  The lives of embryos matter, the lives of women don’t.

I don’t know what else to say.  This outrageous, it is horrific.  It is going to cost the financial security, health, and lives of countless women.  Women are going to die.  Yes, it’s an awful thing to have to say, but it’s the truth, and for that reason needs to be said: women are going to die because of this.

Congratulations, “pro-life” groups.  You’ve got yet more blood to wash of your misogynistic hands.

Via Jump off the Bridge

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25 comments for “Dominican Republic Passes Complete Ban on Abortion

  1. April 25, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    At least Lady Macbeth could see the blood: these groups have convinced themselves that they’re saving lives.

  2. Jimena
    April 25, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    I’m from the Dominican Republic and trust me, you have no idea how big of a circus the banning of abortion/art.30/women’s life over anything else issues has been. We just reversed about 100 years, give or take.

  3. April 25, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Dear God. What can be done to save these women’s lives? Would it be possible for them to go to neighbouring countries for abortions? Could there be a fund for those who can’t afford it? I hope something can be done in the face of this idiotic and callous decision.

  4. April 25, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    I don’t know Natalia. I’m hoping that someone like Women on Waves might get involved, but the problem is that there are just so many places all over the world where women are dying because of abortion that it’s pretty much impossible for one organization to be everywhere.

    But if anyone has ideas, I’m all ears. Specifically if there are ways to fund groups working on this (i.e. safe underground abortion networks) within the Dominican Republic.

  5. estraven
    April 25, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Just to make everybody even less happy, let me remind you that not only women who want or need abortions are at a risk by such a law. Under such a law, doctors are often very reluctant to provide adequate care after a spontaneous pregnancy loss.
    Sometimes the expression “pro-life” seems really a crazy joke.

  6. denelian
    April 26, 2009 at 1:22 am

    what the fuck is wrong with people! i *STILL* don’t understand why so many people are against abortion, the entire thing is counter-intuitive!

    i hope this doesn’t last…

  7. Sandy
    April 26, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Well, I may not be able to do anything about their political situation, but I am now boycotting any and all products from the Dominican Republic. I can’t let my dollars go to such a horrible regime.

  8. Kelsey
    April 26, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Not to burst everyone’s bubble, but wouldn’t “life of the mother” cases fall under self-defense?
    Also, several countries have criminalized abortion and seen no increase in maternal death. See the statistics on Poland in the final paragraph of this article- (biased source, but I’m just interested in the pure numbers).

  9. April 26, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Kelsey, unless the article is wrong, it says quite clearly “no exceptions.” Further, those “life of the mother” cases generally don’t include those women who would rather kill themselves than give birth.

    Biased source generally means biased numbers, especially when they don’t show the raw data. I don’t have the time to do the math now to take a look at rates of death, which is what matters — but you will note that the number of pregnancies seemingly went down significantly, as each and every number, including births, fell significantly.

    Further, while I could admittedly be wrong about this (and please someone correct me if I am — I don’t claim to know a whole lot about either country), I’m pretty sure that Poland is in a significantly better economic situation than the Dominican Republic? And also surrounded by countries (like Germany and the Czech Republic) that allow abortion — meaning that many women will just hop over the border. Those who can afford to, anyway. Those who can’t will end up with another kid they don’t want/can’t afford or with a back alley provider.

    Which is to say that while I don’t know a whole lot of the situation with regards to abortion in either country, a lot of different factors at play beyond raw numbers, and that the situation in one country is hardly automatically reflective of the situation in another. And the idea that since abortion has been outlawed in Poland, not a single woman has died trying to induce one herself or with the help of someone else? That’s pretty hard to believe.

    Of course, all of this is only relevant if you’re commenting in good faith. Which I am in fact quite skeptical about.

  10. April 26, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    wow. they must not care about the health of women and children there at all. It doesn’t take a genius to go and look up what happens when abortion gets banned.

  11. maria
    April 27, 2009 at 3:16 am

    The state law has nothing to do with the moral law. Free-will exists outside the rules. I don’t think pro-life groups want for women to die, and just think at the baby (I hope I’m not too idealist). Still, every woman should have the right to chose how to manage her body.

  12. April 27, 2009 at 6:36 am

    Maria — there are two schools of thought on the subject of women’s lives with regards to the “pro-life” movement. Well, probably more, but I think two primary ones:

    One says that if a woman wants to “murder” her poor innocent child, then she deserves to die. Yes, I am entirely serious. People actually think this.

    The second is what you just nailed, and probably a bit more prevalent — they don’t even think of the woman. They think only of the fetus. The woman does not exist for them — she’s invisible, an incubator. And, well, I don’t call that idealist at all. I think that’s just a whole different but probably equally disgusting brand of misogyny.

  13. Callisto
    April 27, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Kelsey Yes they have. Polish women travel for abortions when they need them. 10,000 came to the UK in 2008 In Nicaragua women are dying in large numbers but the deaths are not being recorded as being due to “not getting adequate care”. The deaths are being recorded as something else. So yes it is a death sentence for many and condemns women in a very poor place to having more children than their health or bank balance can care for. There will be vastly more children born and there will be civil unrest. And I will think that those who made this law bloody well deserve the civil unrest. They cant provide for their people when they ask for help it will be talk to the hand as far as I’m concerned. 1 in 80 pregnancies are ectopic and without “abortion surgery” deadly. Nicaragua vastly under reports the results of its woman killing law.

  14. April 27, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I hear so many women in the U.S. these days tell me there is no need to worry about our abortion rights because “the government would never take them away.”

    I think we can take this as a reminder that they, in fact, can.

    Does anyone know if the Dominican Republic permits capital punishment?

  15. April 27, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    So, about these mothers convulsing with preeclampsia. I wonder if the doctors would go ahead and deliver the baby prematurely and try to keep it alive. It would depend if they have access to care for premature babies and if not, then they might not take the baby because they could be charged with performing an abortion. Terrible. However, if there is access to neonatal intensive care, then mothers can be saved by treating the “interruption” as a premature birth. That’s very different from an abortion in which the procedure of ending the pregnancy is done in such a way as to end the life of the fetus.

  16. Ori
    April 27, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    When will these so-called ‘pro-lifers” start valuing a mother’s life and well-being as much as a fetus? This abortion ban is an insult to women, especially rape victims and women carrying dangerous pregnancies. I grieve for Dominican women.

  17. maria
    April 27, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Cara, I’m very dissapointed with these pro-life groups, if what you said is true. In Romania there was the famous “decret 770” (a comunist directive that banned the abortion). sad.

  18. Gordon
    April 27, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    I can do no better than quote from a poem (which, full disclosure, I wrote myself) inspired by reading Dr. Susan Wicklund’s memoir This Common Secret:

    “Idolaters of blind, unfeeling cells,
    You count for nothing those already born,
    Their hopes, fears, agonies, their very selves,
    For nothing all the morgue-slab failures of
    Your fevered dogma dreams.”

  19. Jenn
    April 27, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    What a coincidence. I was just researching language schools to attend in the DR this summer. After reading this, I will definately go somewhere else. I want to tell the DR government the reason for my decision not to visit. Do you have an email where I can send my statement?

  20. Roving Thundercloud
    April 28, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Disgusting, as it will also deprive existing families of their mothers, and take women from their loving partners. Every pregnancy, even the joyfully anticipated one, becomes a fearful risk.

  21. JGab
    April 29, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    I dont know much about either this situation, or this kind of law, so I have to ask. Would this ban apply to things like ectopic pregnancies, or say a case where the fetus has in fact died but the body has not properly miscarried? How far do their definitions of “abortion” go… does this end up being a ban on the actual procedures that cause abortion whether or not there is a viable embryo or fetus involved?

  22. hellogoodbye
    May 11, 2009 at 1:11 am

    “Again, the amendment also does not include exceptions for rape/incest, or life of the mother. Just as the influential Catholic Church would want it. ”

    The Catholic Church actually supports abortions to save the life of the mother (they’re OK with abortions for ectopic pregnancies, and induced labor for pre/eclampsia). As far as induced labor for preeclampsia and eclampsia goes, you have to balance the life of the mother and fetus equally.

    To answer JGab’s question, it absolutely would not ban an “abortion” if the fetus had already died! I don’t even think that’s even called an abortion. No one is opposed to that.

    I think the framers of this law really dropped the ball when they didn’t make an exception for ectopic pregnancies, and failed to state that the doctors could induce labor in an emergency. I really wonder if there’s anything that can be done to try to make them amend it to allow for this without completely getting rid of this part of their Constitution. If someone could post a link with any information on this, I’d really appreciate it.

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