by Steven Ertelt
September 14, 2007
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (LifeNews.com) — A Catholic leader in the Dominican Republic says United Nations officials and representatives of pro-abortion groups are trying to pay lawmakers in the nation’s Congress to legalize abortion.
The nation has become the latest abortion battleground in the region and its legislature has held two hearings on a measure to make abortion legal and plans to discuss it a third time.
Cardinal Nicholas De Jesus Lopez Rodriquez said members of some UN non-governmental organizations are resorting to bribery to get the legislators to back the abortion bill.
“There are powerful international hands behind this,” Rodriguez said, according to a Dominican Today report. “To me, this is nothing strange. They have done it throughout the entire world.”
His comments came during a forum on pro-life issues with Catholic youth in the nation’s capital city.
Meanwhile, abortion advocates are continuing the campaign to get the Latin American nation to reform its penal code and legalize abortion. They are making the nation their next target after getting Mexico City to legalize abortions there.
The proposal by several pro-abortion groups to legalize so-called therapeutic abortions has resulted in intense debate.
Abortion is currently illegal for any reason in the nation and those who do abortions face anywhere from six months to two years in prison for causing them.
Leading pro-abortion activist Sergia Galvan met with a special commission of the Chamber of Deputies in July to press for legal abortions and continues to speak out.
She continued her claims that laws in the Dominican Republic are causing high numbers of illegal abortions there.
Galvan, the director of the Woman and Health Collective, told the IPS news service on Tuesday that, "The criminalization of abortion does not solve the problem; it merely forces vulnerable women to put their lives at risk by undergoing illegal abortions."
She called denying abortions in cases of rape or incest an "abuse" of women’s rights and previously claimed that 80,000 to 100,000 illegal abortions take place annually in the Dominican Republic.
Galvan’s group is getting support from the Dominican medical association, which is backing the legalization of abortion.
Angel Veras, a legal advisor for the group, told IPS that "therapeutic abortion cannot be opposed on an ideological basis," and "laws cannot be written to please the interests of specific groups."
Julio César Valentín of the governing Dominican Liberation Party, said he would listen to both sides of the debate, but added that he rejected "pressure from any sector while the abortion question is being discussed."
Congress has held two public hearings and is planning a third.
Despite the claims of deaths from illegal abortions, the maternal mortality rate on the island has fallen to 132 per 100,000 from 170 per 100,000 in 1991. Those rates include deaths from all causes.
Catholic Church priests such as Miguel Ruiz, of the Pastoral Family and the Christian Lawyers Network, have also appeared at public hearings and opposed any efforts to legalize abortion.
Ruiz explained that making abortion legal in the Dominican Republic would violate the nation’s constitution and also violate international treaties the country has ratified.
Raimundo Rojas, the Hispanic outreach director for National Right to Life, told LifeNews.com that "Latin America continues to be under attack from pro-abortion forces who want to see the same type of abortion on demand for any reason in those countries as we have here in the United States."