Catholic bishops reject proposal to decriminalize abortion in Dominican Republic

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The Dominican bishops' conference issued a statement Sunday rejecting a proposal to decriminalize abortion under certain conditions in a newly revised penal code being debated in the Dominican Congress.

"Life is the first civil right that is mentioned in our Constitution in its art. 37, which reads: 'The right to life is inviolable from conception to death.' Life is a right prior to all legislation. Without life there are no possibilities to enjoy any other right," the bishops said in the Jan. 10 statement.

Despite the fact that the nation's constitution rejects the possibility of legalizing abortion, radical feminist activists have been trying to de facto legalize it via a "decriminalization" using the penal code.

"According to our own Constitution, the State cannot apply the death penalty even to the worst offenders, since it says: 'The death penalty may not be established, pronounced or applied, in any case.' So, how to accept that in our country abortion is consecrated, in the so-called three causes, in which innocent creatures are killed, the nasciturus (the unborn child)?" the bishops' document says.

In December 2020, the president of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, told the left-leaning Spanish newspaper El País that  "I disagree, as does the majority of the population, not only in the Dominican Republic but also in the world, with free abortion, but I do think that there must be grounds that allow the interruption of the pregnancy. That has been the official position of our party."

The Dominican congress, with the president's support, is debating legalizing abortion in the cases pertaining to "the health of the mother," rape, and "severe fetal malformation."

According to the bishops' conference, "Incorporating abortion into our legislation, in any circumstance, is a flagrant constitutional violation, and a blow to the social and democratic state of law. Approving the so-called three grounds would be a serious violation of the right to life that could only be based on a wrong interpretation of the Constitution."

"We are shocked to know that in our society there are those who think that sacrificing innocent children under euphemistic names such as 'a decision about one's own body,' 'women's empowerment' or 'sexual and reproductive rights' can be seen as part of authentic progress."

Regarding "therapeutic abortion," the bishops explain that "Medical ethics indicates that in the case of complications in a pregnancy, efforts should be made to save mother and child and never see the premeditated death of one of them as an easy way out, as established in the official protocols of the Ministry of Public Health, which have been used in public hospitals in our country for many years."

"Let us promote the approval of a Penal Code in accordance with our Constitution, one that shows to the world that Dominicans love life, and that motherhood is one of the great treasures that the Dominican woman and our Nation have."

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