Dominican Republic Abortion Law Debated in Supreme Court
(PRESS RELEASE) Despite progress made by the Dominican Republic last year decriminalizing abortion in limited circumstances, the Supreme Court will hold a judicial hearing today to discuss three different constitutional challenges to the new law.
Last December, President Danilo Medina signed the country’s amended Penal Code that allows women access to safe abortion services in cases of rape, incest, fetal impairment and when the life of the pregnant woman is at risk—a momentous step toward expanding access to safe and legal abortion.
Despite the Supreme Court ignoring Constitutional due process and failing to allow for a 15-day period in which amicus briefs could be filed, the Center for Reproductive Rights, La Colectiva Mujer y Salud and partner organizations have submitted such a briefs in support of decriminalizing abortion to the Supreme Court for consideration.
Said Mónica Arango, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“The Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court must maintain the critical progress made by President Medina and Congress toward protecting and respecting women’s fundamental human rights to reproductive health care, including safe and legal abortion.
“Global human rights and reproductive health communities must continue fight for this reformed penal code and for the countless women in the Dominican Republic who need essential reproductive health care.”
The Dominican Republic’s absolute ban on abortion has led to more than 90,000 unsafe abortions occurring in the country each year. There are now only five countries left in Latin America—Chile, El Salvador, Surinam, Honduras and Nicaragua—that completely ban abortion with no explicit exceptions.
During this legislative term that started on February 27, the Dominican Republic Chamber of Deputies plans to draft a bill to regulate abortion in cases of rape, incest or fetal impairments.
According to a recent Center report, 35 countries have amended their laws to expand access to safe and legal abortion services in the last 20 years—a trend that has marked incredible progress toward improving women’s rights and lives, including significantly reducing rates of maternal mortality due to unsafe abortion. The report was released alongside the Center’s updated World’s Abortion Laws map—one of the most comprehensive resources on abortion laws across the globe.