U.S. lawmakers spoke out about abortion access in the Dominican Republic. The Biden administration didn't back them.
JAN 16, 2024
In early December, a delegation of U.S. state lawmakers traveled to the Dominican Republic as part of a trip organized by State Innovation Exchange and the Women’s Equality Center. I was one of a group of journalists, and the only one based full time in the United States, who tagged along.
The lawmakers on the trip were New York assembly members Karines Reyes, Amanda Septimo, and Jessica González-Rojas—the former executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice—along with North Carolina state Sen. Natalie Murdock and Arizona state Sen. Anna Hernandez.
BY MARÍA TERESA HERNÁNDEZ
January 2, 2024
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — The Dominican Republic is one of four Latin American nations that criminalizes abortion without exceptions. Women face up to 2 years in prison for having an abortion, while the penalties for doctors or midwives range from 5 to 20 years. Abortion rights activists argue that the country’s total abortion ban not only restricts women’s reproductive choices but also puts their lives in danger.
Here’s a look at the country’s ban.
BY MARÍA TERESA HERNÁNDEZ
January 2, 2024
AZUA, Dominican Republic (AP) — It was a busy Saturday morning at Marcia González’s church. A bishop was visiting, and normally she would have been there helping with logistics, but on this day she was teaching sex education at a local school.
“I coordinate activities at the church and my husband is a deacon,” González said. “The bishop comes once a year and children are being confirmed, but I am here because this is important for my community.”
For 40 years, González and her husband have pushed for broader sex education in the Dominican Republic, one of four Latin American nations that criminalizes abortion without exceptions. Women face up to 2 years in prison for having an abortion; penalties for doctors or midwives range from 5 to 20 years.
BY: GLORIA REBECCA GOMEZ
DECEMBER 26, 2023
In Arizona, the state’s highest court is considering whether to restore a near-total abortion ban from 1864, and in the Dominican Republic, women are fighting against an all-out ban from 1884.
The just 20-year difference separating the two laws was striking for Sen. Anna Hernandez, D-Phoenix, who traveled to the Caribbean country earlier this month to learn what awaits women in Arizona if access to abortions is cut off.
Human Rights Watch
August 31, 2023
The National Confederation of Rural Women (Confederación Nacional de Mujeres del Campo or CONAMUCA), Network of United Youth Voices (Red Juvenil Voces Unidas), the Coalition for Women’s Life and Dignity (Coalición por la Vida y la Dignidad de las mujeres), and Human Rights Watch write in advance of the 94th session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (the “Committee”) and its review of the Dominican Republic. This submission addresses articles 3, 6, 24, 28, and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and covers access to abortion and specific aspects of the right to education.
The total abortion ban in the Dominican Republic, in effect since 1884, threatens the health and lives of girls, women, and pregnant people, and is incompatible with the country’s international human rights obligations.
Afro-feminist movements push for comprehensive sex education, a cultural shift, and exceptions to a total abortion ban.
By Natalia Perez-Gonzalez
FEBRUARY 22, 2023
SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC—There’s a citywide blackout. No street lights, no shop lights—just headlights from passing cars. “This is just your typical Friday night,” Alicia Mendez Medina says, and a bodega worker nods from behind her. Alicia bids her goodbye and we head to Parque Duarte, the place many have described as “the it spot” for nightlife in Santo Domingo. She orders some wine.
“This country is a mess,” she laughs, and pours herself a glass. I can only see her cheekbones and her eyes, her back illuminated by phone flashlights from passersby. We restart our conversation, this time in almost complete darkness.
Specialist warns that causing abortion is always dangerous
Note: Headline does not represent what the specialist said
February 16, 2023
On a daily basis, the country’s health centers receive cases of patients of all ages who have medical complications as a result of induced abortions performed under unsafe conditions that endanger their health and lives. The consequences of having an unsafe abortion, whether because the woman ingested pills or another substance or because it was induced by another person, can range from emotional consequences to permanent anemia, mutilations, irreversible damage to the uterus, and even death.
This is how Dr. César López, president of the Dominican Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, explains it, noting that in cases like this, where a woman’s life is put in danger, especially if she is an adolescent, no one is innocent, and there are responsibilities from all sectors, including a lack of sexual education in schools and the family itself. “Provoking or inducing an abortion will always be dangerous, and even more so if all the conditions that must be met, such as asepsis, correct anesthesia, and the expertise of the doctor who performs it, are not met,” he explained.
Advocates say court ruling that decriminalises abortion in rape cases is an important step, but struggle continues.
By Vincent Ricci
7 May 2021
Quito, Ecuador – Women’s rights advocates have hailed a recent court ruling that will ease restrictions on abortion in cases of rape in Ecuador, the latest country in Latin America to be swept up in the “green wave” abortion rights movement.
In a 7-2 vote on April 28, the Constitutional Court of Ecuador deemed unconstitutional a previous ban that outlawed abortions except in cases where a woman’s life was in danger, or if a woman with a mental disability was raped.
Lawmakers Should Enact Proposed Criminal Code Reform
April 22, 2021
Human Rights Watch
(Washington, DC) – The Congress of the Dominican Republic should adopt a proposal to decriminalize abortion in three circumstances as a matter of urgency, Human Rights Watch said today. The country’s total abortion ban, in effect since 1884, threatens women’s health and lives and is incompatible with its international human rights obligations.
Abortion is illegal in the Dominican Republic even when a pregnancy is life-threatening, unviable, or the result of rape or incest. A proposal being debated by Congress would decriminalize abortion in these cases.
Criminalizing abortions is “causing an increase in maternal mortality and morbidity, which places us as one of the countries with the worst health indicators," one medical professional said.
April 14, 2021
By Nicole Acevedo
A promise made on the campaign trail and not kept has now sparked a month of daily protests in the Dominican Republic, one of two dozen nations in the world with a ban on abortions under all circumstances — even when a woman's life is at risk.
Hundreds of women and reproductive-rights advocates began gathering every day outside the executive mansion of President Luis Abinader in mid-March, after Dominican lawmakers failed to decriminalize abortion when a woman's life is in danger, the pregnancy is not viable or in cases of rape or incest.