On Monday, lawmakers in the Domincan Republic voted overwhelmingly in favor of a Penal Code that carries on the Carribean nation’s ban on abortion. The bill passed the Chamber of Deputies easily, with a final vote of 132-6, but still must clear the Senate and the desk of President Danilo Medina, who has recently refused to sign similar legislation.
Based on a current law first enacted in 1884, abortion is currently illegal in all cases in the Dominican Republic, although supporters of the ban claim that no one has ever been charged or convicted for abortions carried out strictly to save the life of the mother.
Fidel Lorenzo, president of the Dominican Evangelical Unity Council, celebrated the decision from legislators: “It’s a significant step taken by the country. We have a code in keeping with the times after more than 15 years of struggles and defending the culture of protection of life.”
Father Manuel Ruiz, a Catholic leader, said that if the bill succeeds in clearing the Senate and getting Medina’s signature, “It would be cause for joy.”
In 2010, Medina refused to sign a Penal Code which carried on the abortion ban unless abortion exceptions were added for several scenarios including rape, incest, and unborn children with disabilities. The dispute continued all the way to the nation’s constitutional court, which ruled at the end of last year that Medina’s demands violated the constitutional recognition of the rights of the unborn.
Until a new Penal Code is passed into law, the old code remains the law. And under the old code, abortion is illegal in all cases.