By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
The Dominican Republic’s church-inspired ban on all abortions has cost the life of a pregnant 16-year-old according to her mother, Rosa Hernandez. The teen, who suffered from leukemia, was unable to undergo life-saving chemotherapy until it was too late. The DR’s ban prevented a therapeutic abortion of the 13 week fetus as doctors were unwilling to make an exception.
A blood transfusion on Thursday was unsuccessful, and the postponed chemotherapy was likewise ineffective. The teen miscarried on Friday but died from complications including cardiac arrest.
“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. Not according to DR law which constitutionally provides that “the right to life is inviolable from the moment of conception and until death.” Dominican courts have interpreted this as a strict mandate against abortion.
Article 37 of the DR’s constitution, which also bans the death penalty, was heavily promoted by the Roman Catholic Church. The Church’s all-out war against abortion has taken root in heavily catholic Latin America, where 16 states in Mexico have recently adopted constitutional amendments declaring that life begins at conception. These follow the criminalization of abortion under all circumstances by Nicaragua in 2006, and El Salvador in 1998.
In 2009,the Dominican Gynecology and Obstetrics Society warned that enacting Article 37 would lead to more maternal deaths. The United Nations Program for Human Development coordinator Miguel Ceara Hatton said, “The Catholic Church influenced in everything. For following a dogma it has become a source and a motor for social exclusion in the Dominican Republic. The dogma is placed ahead of the needs of the population, health, housing and better living conditions.”
The needless death has precipitated a world-wide outcry against the ban, but Rosa Hernandez’ daughter is still dead in service to someone else’s principles.
~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger