Abortion Ban Stalls Treatment of Dying Teen

In the Dominican Republic doctors are not treating a 16-year-old girl with acute leukemia because of her pregnancy, CNN reports. Article 37 of the Dominican constitution, passed in 2009 states: “the right to the life is inviolable from conception until death.” Because of this bill, abortion is illegal in every case, including rape, incest, and endangerment of a woman’s health or life. The unnamed girl is dying and needs an aggressive chemotherapy treatment, which would more than likely terminate her pregnancy. The teen is approximately 12 weeks pregnant. Doctors are fearful of providing her with the treatment she needs out of fear of legal action, but the current state of her treatment is unclear.

The girl’s mother, Rosa Hernandez, is trying to convince health and government officials to make an exception and give her daughter the chance of survival. “My daughter’s life is first. I know that [abortion] is a sin and that it goes against the law … but my daughter’s health is first,” Hernandez said.

“How can it be possible that so much time is being wasted? That the treatment hasn’t begun yet because they’re still meeting, trying to decide if she has the right to receive the treatment to save her life — that’s unacceptable,” said Lilliam Fondeur, a women’s rights activist in the Dominican Republic.

This case highlights the concerns raised by Aldrian Almonte, President of the Dominican Gynecology and Obstetrics Society, in 2009 when the ban was passed. He warned that maternal deaths would rise significantly as a result of Article 37 and said “I would like of the honorable legislators to tell me what are we going to do before the presence of a woman with severe preeclampsia or eclampsia, convulsing in any emergency room around the country, what must we do, see her die to protect ourselves from the repercussions that [the ban] stipulates?”

Media Resources: CNN 7/25/12; Care2 7/27/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 4/27/09

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