Fox News reports that legislators in the Dominican Republic approved on Thursday a constitutional provision that affirms that “the right to life is inviolable from conception until death” and thus makes abortion for any reason nearly impossible in the country. Approved by a majority vote of 128 to 34, Article 30 was included in a constitutional reform bill submitted by President Leonel Fernández. Abortion is prohibited in all cases in the Dominican Republic, even in cases of rape or incest or when the health of the mother is in danger. The vote, which Amnesty International had warned would endanger the lives of many women, was applauded by priests and Dominican Catholics who gathered at the legislature. The Rev. Manuel Ruiz, Fox reports, said the right-to-life provision was a cause for celebration and represented a strong protection for families. He added that activists who protested against the measure had wanted to start a “culture of abortion” in the Dominican Republic.
There has been vocal opposition to the provision, After the vote, a frustrated activist, Sergia Galvan, told reporters the Catholic Church wanted to take people back to “medieval times,” saying lawmakers were afraid of losing votes in a nation estimated to be 95 percent Roman Catholic. Susan Lee, Director of Amnesty International’s America’s program, said that “Dominican Parliamentarians have delivered a huge blow to the right to life of women and girls.” It is widely acknowledged, Amnesty International has argued, that this will lead to changes in the Penal Code, which could lead to a ban on abortions in all circumstances. Now that it has been approved, Article 30 could severely limit the availability of safe abortions, even in cases when a woman is suffering from life-threatening complications or is in need of life-saving treatment incompatible with pregnancy – such as that for malaria, cancer or HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, access to safe abortion for women or girls who are pregnant as a result of rape or incest would become even more restricted.
“Amnesty International will continue to stand in support of all Dominicans who oppose imprisonment or other criminal penalties for abortion,” said Susan Lee. “We will also continue to advocate ensuring that safe and legal abortion services are available, accessible, and of good quality for all women and girls who require them in all cases where the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest and when the pregnancy poses a risk to the life or health of the woman.”
For more go to http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,552080,00.html
For Amnesty International’s response go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGNAU2009091813206&lang=e