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Political Will Needed to Protect Health and Rights of Women in the Dominican Republic

Written By: Lucina Di Meco
September 30, 2009

 

Over the past few months, we’ve been monitoring the progress of Article 30 – a piece of legislation introduced in the Dominican Republic in late April and ratified in their Congress a few weeks ago. Article 30 establishes that “the right to life is inviolable from conception until death,” effectively making abortion illegal in all cases, including rape, incest, and to save a woman’s life.

Last Friday, I attended an event at the New York University Law School, featuring Leonel Fernández Reyna, President of the Dominican Republic. In his talk – which I videoed with a flip camera – President Fernández responded to a question from Jaweer Brown, the Director of International Programs for Latin America and the Carribean at Planned Parenthood NYC, about Article 30 with this comment: “My own point of the view is that we should have limited it to just guaranteeing the right of life, not saying from conception to death”. Despite his criticism of the wording, the President has not suggested any amendments to the bill. See the full video below.

At speaking engagements outside of the Dominican Republic, President Fernández has disagreed with Article 30; however he has not spoken up at home. He has not formally proposed amendments to the article, as it is in his power to do. He has decided not to intervene, he said last week at NYU, in order to respect the democratic process – a process whose outcome is in direct conflict with the population’s will. According to a recent survey, 80% of Dominicans are in favor of the decriminalization of abortion and 73% do not think this matter should be regulated in the Constitution. Check out an article (in Spanish only) about popular opinion here.

We deeply hope that President Fernández will make use of all legal means in his possession to take a brave stand on behalf of women’s and girl’s human rights.

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