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Startseite Urgent Actions 2016 06 Imminent critical congress vote on abortion Vote on the right to abortion pending
FI 151/16-2
Dominican Republic
Abgeschlossen am 10. Oktober 2016

Vote on the right to abortion pending

AI-Index: AMR 27/4554/2016

The Dominican Republic Senate was due to vote on 25 July on a reform to the Criminal Code which maintains the criminalization of abortion except where the pregnancy poses a risk to the life of a pregnant woman or girl. Senators decided to send the text to the Human Rights Commission for further consideration.

On 19 July the House of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados), the lower chamber of the Dominican Congress, approved a new version of the Criminal Code that represents a step back for the rights of Dominican women and girls. This reform is a regression from the previous version of the Criminal Code adopted in 2014, as it now only allows abortion in one case: where the pregnancy poses a risk to the life of a pregnant woman or girl.

The Senate, the upper chamber of the Congress, was due to discuss and vote on the reform on 25 July, before the end of the current Parliamentary session. However, Senators voted to send the text to the Senate’s Justice and Human Rights Commission (Comisión de Justica y Derechos Humanos) for further consideration. The discussion of the bill will restart with a new congress in place on 16 August.

The newly elected Congresspersons must urgently reintroduce the three circumstances for decriminalization of abortion that were approved in 2014: where i) the pregnancy poses a risk to the life of a pregnant woman or girl; ii) where the foetus would be unable to survive outside the womb; iii) and where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Any other action would constitute a regression in the rights of women and girls.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

In December 2014, Dominican President Danilo Medina approved changes to the Criminal Code to lift the total ban on abortion and pave the way for decriminalization in three circumstances: where the pregnancy poses a risk to the life of a pregnant woman or girl, where the foetus would be unable to survive outside the womb, and where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. The decision was celebrated by human rights organizations and local women´s groups. The reforms were due to take effect, a year later, in December 2015, and were to be regulated in separate legislation.

The public position against a total ban on abortion taken by President Medina and Congress in 2014 was a big step forward for the rights of women and girls in the Dominican Republic. However, a year later, the Constitutional Court struck down the proposed reforms after three religious and conservative pressure groups appealed the decision and alleged procedural errors.

The decision overturned the penal reforms approved by Congress, and left the old Criminal Code, which dates back to 1884, in force. The law allows for criminal sanctions of two to three years’ imprisonment against all women who have an abortion and against all those who cooperate with the interruption of their pregnancy. Medical and pharmaceutical personnel who facilitate or assist in abortions are also punished with a prison sentence between four and 10 years. If a woman dies as a consequence of abortion, the criminal sanction against those facilitating or assisting is between 10 and 20 years.

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