Local Dominicans Divided over Abortion Laws Back Home

The Dominican Republic Congress is debating whether to legalize abortion. (Photo via El Diario)

The Dominican Republic Congress is debating whether to legalize abortion. (Photo via El Diario)

As the Congress of the Dominican Republic debates whether to legalize abortion, in Washington Heights – home to the largest concentration of Dominicans in New York City – discussions on the topic get heated and opinions are divided.

“No human being should decide when to end somebody else’s life,” said 61-year-old Dominican Josefa Taveras when asked if abortion should be legal in her country in cases of danger to the mother’s life, rape or incest or when the fetus presents deformities.

The Dominican Congress will decide if it approves President Danilo Medina’s recommendations for changes to the country’s new penal code regarding the articles pertaining to termination of pregnancy.

The government has said that, although it is in accord with the code’s stance – keeping abortion illegal – exceptions should be made in specific cases.

Carlos Mota, 52, is in favor of legalizing abortion and said that “Congress must approve these exceptions because they are made with the mother in mind and there should be a law protecting them.” He also condemned the strong opposition that the measure has sparked in the country.

Along the same lines, Fátima Fernandez, 39, said that “it is time that the rights of women are protected, especially in cases where their lives are at risk or they have been raped.” She also said that “this could help prevent clandestine abortions.”

“I am definitely against abortion because only God can make decisions about life and death,” said Carmen Nova, 57. She did not accept any of the clauses that are being considered as exceptions to decriminalize abortion.

Zuleika Reynaldo, 53, supports a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy regardless of how she became pregnant. “I do not believe that the state should be able to decide when a woman must carry on with her pregnancy. Abortion should be legal in the Dominican Republic,” said Reynaldo.

On the other hand, 61-year-old Rafael Serna said that the measure is not only against his principles but also against his religion. “As a Christian, [I believe that] threatening the life of a being is like threatening God. I do not believe in abortion, and there should be no exceptions,” said Serna.

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