(PRESS RELEASE) The Dominican Republic Chamber of Deputies has agreed to amend the country’s Penal Code to allow abortion in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the pregnant woman is at risk—a major step toward expanding access to safe and legal abortion.
On November 28, in accordance with international human rights standards, President Danilo Medina sent a letter to the Chamber of Deputies asking Congress to change the Penal Code to allow safe and legal abortion in limited circumstances.
Once this revised code is approved, the Dominican Republic will become the 36th country to decriminalize abortion in the last 20 years, ending the country’s absolute ban on abortion and the harsh penalties associated with it.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Loosening the most severe and harmful restrictions on safe, legal abortion care is an essential step toward ensuring the fundamental human rights of women.
“The abortion ban in the Dominican Republic has needlessly destroyed the lives of countless women and families, and there is still more that the country must do to prevent further harm and injustice.
“We hope the government works quickly to approve this revised penal code so that more women can get the essential reproductive health care that is their right.”
The Dominican Republic is currently one of only six countries in Latin America that completely bans abortion with no explicit exceptions, which has led to more than 90,000 unsafe abortions occurring in the country each year.
“We commend the President and Chamber for taking this first critical step toward protecting and respecting women’s fundamental human rights to reproductive health care,” said Mónica Arango, regional director for Latin American and the Caribbean at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
According to a recent Center report, 35 countries have amended their laws to expand access to safe and legal abortion services in the last 20 years—a trend that has marked incredible progress toward improving women’s rights and lives, including significantly reducing rates of maternal mortality due to unsafe abortion. The report was released alongside the Center’s updated World’s Abortion Laws map—one of the most comprehensive resources on abortion laws across the globe.