Amnesty urges Dominican Republic not to ban abortion


London : Amnesty International (AI) has warned that the proposed changes to the Dominican Republic’s constitution could lead to a ban on abortions that would put “the lives of women and girls at risk”.

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The text of Article 30 would establish the inviolability of life from conception to death, wording that would almost certainly lead to a total prohibition on abortion, AI said in a statement.

“If the article is approved as proposed, it would severely limit the availability of safe abortions, even in cases when a woman is suffering from life-threatening complications or is in need of life-saving treatment incompatible with pregnancy — such as that for malaria, cancer or HIV/AIDS,” the statement said.

“Furthermore, access to safe abortion for women or girls who have unwanted pregnancies as a result of rape or incest would become even more restricted,” AI said.

“As it stands, the proposed change to the constitution would have a devastating impact on women’s and girls’ access to effective reproductive health care in the Dominican Republic,” said AI’s Americas director Susan Lee.

AI recalled that the Dominican Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists has warned of the potentially “catastrophic” impact of Article 30 on maternal mortality.

“When abortion is totally banned, the rates of maternal mortality grow because doctors are unable or fearful of providing life-saving treatment that is contra-indicated with pregnancy, even when it’s the only way to save the patient,” Lee said.

AI recently published a report examining the repercussions of the total ban on all types of abortion in Nicaragua, concluding that it contributes to an increase in maternal mortality.

“Four UN treaty bodies have strongly criticised Nicaragua’s full ban on abortions because of the risks it places on women’s and girls’ lives and health. The Dominican Republic should not follow the same steps,” Lee said.