DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – A correction: the law has not been changed

On 30 April 2021, we published a report from the Dominican Republic that talked about two possible types of abortion law reform. One was raised by the new president, to call a referendum and “let the people decide” whether to reform the law.

The second, based on articles written or published by Agencia Efe, I understood had reported that during consideration of reform of the Penal Code in the Congress, a clause that allowed termination of pregnancy if there is a risk to the woman’s life, was passed for the first time, though no other grounds for abortion were approved. That was not correct. Either I misunderstood the translation from Spanish of the report or the journalist who wrote the report misunderstood, or both. Here are the facts, from Dominican Republic abortion rights advocate Sergia Galvan:

“No new ground for legal abortion was approved. What they referred to is what has always existed (in Article 112, Penal Code), which says: The termination of a pregnancy performed by specialist medical personnel in public or private health establishments is not punishable if, in aiming to save the endangered lives of the mother and the fetus, all other available scientific and technical means have been exhausted as far as possible. In these circumstances, the termination will be considered to be justified as a ‘state of necessity’.

“The Penal Code considers that a ‘state of necessity’ exists when a person, due to a natural or human event, is forced to carry out a criminal act to save his own life, his bodily integrity, his freedom, his honour, or his property, or those of others, from an unforeseen, present, imminent danger… Thus, it allows medical professionals, when a woman is on her deathbed, to make decisions about her life and health.

“This is not one of the three legal grounds for abortion, regarding the life of the woman, that we are demanding. We are demanding the following three legal grounds – that the woman has the right to decide for abortion if and when: i) her life is in danger, or ii) when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or iii) when the fetus has a congenital malformation incompatible with life.

“What has been reported in the media, that the first of our three grounds was accepted into the Penal Code, was apparently a manipulation of what happened in the Chamber of Deputies.”

“We appreciate the publication of this correction. Thank you for the support in reporting what is happening in our countries, about this just cause. We have to clarify that while the Green Wave is in the Dominican Republic, it is so far only in the streets, not in the Congress.” (Sergia Galvan)

SOURCE: For the eradication of the crime of abortion, by Sergia Galván via Ana Cristina González Velez, E-mail, 4 May 2021 ; PHOTO: CoalicionxMujeres, 16 December 2020