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Dominican Republic Reignites Debate on Abortion

ISSN:1089-1560
LADB Article ID: 80205
Category/Department: Dominican Republic
Date: 2017-02-09
By: Crosby Girón

A power struggle has been going on in the Dominican Republic since December between President Danilo Medina and Congress regarding the country’s abortion laws. Just as he did in 2014, Medina is asking Congress to approve a series of reforms to the penal code in order to legalize abortion when the mother’s life is at risk, when the fetus suffers from congenital malformations, when the fetus would be unable to survive outside of the mother’s uterus, and in case of rape or incest. In 2014, Congress approved the reforms put forward by the executive, but the Constitutional Court blocked them by annulling the existing penal code and reinstating a version of the code that dates back to 1884. The newer penal code was eventually reinstated. However, in December 2015, Congress approved a reform to the code that prohibited abortion under any circumstances. Article 317 of the code establishes a prison sentence of up to 20 years for women who decide to terminate a pregnancy. After the penal code was reformed, Medina sent a letter to Senate President Reinaldo Pared Pérez in which he expressed his objections to the changes and said he had the support of Dominican society. In the letter, Medina demanded the legalization of abortion in four exceptional cases.

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