Dominican Republic: Constitution and Penal reforms should enhance Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's rights, not limit them

Constitutional and legal reforms now underway in the Dominican Republic could lead to violations of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s human rights, Amnesty International warned today. The measures may be used as justification for criminalising 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 Congress is considering a new constitutional provision that includes a reference to the inviolability of the right to life “from conception to death”. The constitutional amendment is widely thought to have been introduced to bolster efforts to criminalize and prohibit abortion in all cases. The Dominican Congress is also considering an amendment to the penal code which would increase the penalties for persons involved in carrying out an abortion and explicitly providing for the imprisonment of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights pregnant as a result of rape, incest or involuntary assisted fertilization who seek or cause their own termination of pregnancy.

International human rights law and the Constitution as it is currently in force already protect prenatal life. Amnesty International calls on the Dominican Republic to give effect to this obligation in a manner compatible with the rights of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, including their rights to life and health. This may include measures to prevent miscarriage and stillbirth, the provision of antenatal, emergency obstetric and post-natal care and skilled attendance at birth. Pregnancy cannot be used as an occasion for suspending the concerned woman’s human rights. The protection of the foetus does not invalidate Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's human rights claims.

In order to give effect to its obligations under international human rights law, Amnesty International calls on the Dominican Republic authorities to reform the Penal Code to ensure that Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls are not subject to criminal sanctions for seeking or obtaining an abortion under any circumstances. In particular, Amnesty International calls on the Dominican Congress to eliminate the proposed Article 239 which targets rape, incest and involuntary fertilisation victims for criminal punishment for abortion. The reform must also ensure that medical practitioners are not criminalised solely for providing abortion services that are safe. The Dominican Government must take all necessary measures to ensure that safe and legal abortion services are accessible without unreasonable restrictions to all girls and Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who require them in cases of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest and in circumstances where continuation of pregnancy would put the health or life of the woman or girl at risk. 

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