The Shadow of Abortion Hangs Over the Caribbean

January 22, 2021
Dominican Republic Episcopal Conference

Fearing that their country will follow the example of Argentina, which has just legalized access to abortion, the bishops of the Dominican Republic have intervened in the political debate in order to recall the inalienable character of all human life, from conception to natural death.

The right to life situation is uneven in Latin America: as of January 1, 2021, six countries completely prohibit abortion, even if the pregnancy puts the woman at risk.

Five are located in Central America and the Caribbean: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. And one, Suriname, is in South America.

But, on December 30, 2020, the cards were singularly reshuffled, since the Argentine Senate clearly voted in favor of a bill legalizing unconditional voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion), until the fourteenth week of pregnancy.

As one might fear, the decriminalization of abortion in one of the most important countries of South America has triggered a shock wave across the continent: in the Dominican Republic, the debate around the revision of the Penal Code has thus found a new lease of life.

Progressives want to use what they see as a windfall to enshrine a so-called right to abortion in stone.

It is in this context that the Conference of the Bishops of the Dominican Republic (Ced) published, on January 10, 2021, a press release in order to warn the political world and the population against an evolution of the law which would go against the right to life: “the fact of introducing abortion in our legislation would constitute a flagrant constitutional violation,” they warn.

The left supports the proposal for the partial legalization of abortion for “three reasons”: when the life of the mother is in danger, in the event of malformation of the fetus, or if the pregnancy is the consequence of external violence.

“Approving the so-called ‘three reasons’ would signify a serious violation of the right to life,” warn the Dominican Republic prelates, who rely on the fundamental law of their country to recall that life “is the first of civil rights that our country’s Constitution mentions as inviolable, from conception to natural death.”

Moreover, natural law, which is firstly human law, prohibits the murder of the innocent: “life—continues the CED’s note—is a right prior to all legislation.”

Aware of a possible domino effect as a consequence of the vote of the Argentine Senate, the Dominican Republic prelates conclude with a solemn address to the political world, implicitly evoking the power of the pro-abortion lobbies, which often comes from abroad:

“We call on the legislator, and the elected representatives who represent our people, to support those who mainly want life to be respected and defended. We urge them not to submit to the pressures of a minority that is politically and economically supported by interests foreign to those of our dear nation and which negatively affect certain sectors of national life.”

The bishops go on to stress the inanity of the “three reasons.” The first, because abortion is not a treatment and Dominican Republic public health protocols stress that proportionate efforts must be made to save both mother and child.

The second because a child is not an unjust abuser, an abortion will do nothing to take away the pain of the abuse suffered. On the contrary, it will only add to the psychological weight of this terrible ordeal of rape.

The third, because it is based on the premise that only the “healthy” have a life worth living. Such a principle could be a reason for eliminating the handicapped already born.