SANTO DOMINGO – Defenders of women’s rights staged on Thursday a protest outside the National Congress to criticize the Senate decision earlier this week to ratify the criminalization of abortion.
The Senate on Wednesday, for the second time, rejected the observations made by the Executive Branch on the Criminal Code with an eye toward decriminalizing abortion when the pregnancy puts the life of the mother at risk, if it results from rape or incest or when the fetus has no chance of surviving outside the womb.
The lawmakers’ decision to maintain the criminal penalties, which on other occasions has sparked the expression of opinions both for and against the issue, “is contrary to the will of the Dominican people and a betrayal of the female citizens of this country,” said a women’s group in a communique read to the press outside the legislature.
“It’s an outrage that in 2017 we have to keep responding to the interests of groups acting against our nation. The churches and the anti-rights groups are an obstacle to development and should limit their interference to affairs of state,” the group said.
The Dominican state, the members of the group added, “is the murderer of any woman who dies during unsafe and clandestine abortions trying to save her life,” and they asked “how many deaths will it take before it is recognized that abortion must be included as a medical service?”
“We’re not going to stop here. We’re going to go to all the necessary authorities. Fighting for freedom and justice is in our history, we’re not going to let them take away our rights,” they said.
Finally, the group noted that the Criminal Code has not been transformed into law, and thus the measure must return to the lower house of Congress.
The Dominican Republic is one of the countries in the region with the highest death rates for women during pregnancy, childbirth and the post-partum period, with 106 fatalities per 100,000 births, while the average for the region is 77, according to figures from the Millennium Development Goals report.
According to the Dominican Health Ministry, unsafe abortions directly result in 10 percent of the maternal deaths in the country.