Dominican Republic Includes Pro-Life Language on Abortion in Constitution Bill

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 18, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Dominican Republic Includes Pro-Life Language on Abortion in Constitution Bill

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 18
, 2009

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic ( — The Dominican Republic, an island nation in the Caribbean, has long had pro-life laws that prohibit abortions. Now, lawmakers in its legislature have approved a provision adding pro-life language to a bill that would make changes to its constitution.

Members of the Congress easily approved adding the pro-life language to the bill, with changes on other political issues, saying "the right to life is inviolable from conception until death."

The Rev. Manuel Ruiz spoke for many pro-life advocates in this Catholic country saying that the passage of the language is great news.

But pro-abortion activist Sergia Galvan told the Associated Press she is upset by the vote and accused pro-life advocates of wanting to take women back to "medieval times," even though current research shows how abortion kills children and hurts women.

The Dominican Republic has been coming under heavy attacks from abortion advocates, including Amnesty International. In June, the human rights group attacked the nation for proposing these changes.
In late April, AI released a statement saying the country’s constitutional and legal reforms “could lead to violations of women’s human rights” and claming pro-life laws would lead to increased maternal mortality.

In a new statement released in June, AI said the pro-life language in the constitution and penal law "could lead to violations of women’s human rights."

"The measures may be used as justification for criminalizing abortion in all circumstances, including where the life or health of the woman is at risk or where the pregnancy is the result of rape," the group said.

Piero Tozzi, an attorney with the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, has been monitoring Amnesty International’s attacks on the Dominican Republic for its pro-life position.

"In so doing, Amnesty pits the rights of the mother against those of the unborn child while misrepresenting what international law says – or doesn’t say – about abortion," he says.

"Critics point out, however, that in addition to being fatal to the child in utero, maternal health risks from abortion outweigh those associated with childbirth, particularly where the level of obstetric care is low," he explains.

He says statements AI has made about the nation’s supposed conflict with international law are contradicted by prior statements by the group. As recently as 2005, Amnesty acknowledged that “There is no generally accepted right to abortion in international human rights law.”

"Amnesty’s revisionist approach to global human rights is unsupported by traditional understandings of international law based principally on the consent of state parties to precisely-drafted and duly-ratified treaties," Tozzi notes.

Two years later, however, Amnesty International formally abandoned its previous objectivity and embraced abortion advocacy.

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