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Changes To DR Constitution Will Put Women`s Lives In Danger Rights Group Says

CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Sept. 15, 2009: Amnesty International is warning that proposed changes to the constitution of the Dominican Republic will put women and girls at risk and potentially increase maternal deaths in the country.

Their comment comes as the country`s Parliament is scheduled to vote on a constitutional reform package on Thursday. The proposed formulation of Article 30 would introduce inviolability of life from `conception to death.`

It is widely acknowledged that this will lead to changes in the Penal Code that could lead to a ban on abortions in all circumstances.

If the article is approved as proposed, it would severely limit the availability of safe abortions, even in cases when a woman is suffering from life-threatening complications or is in need of life-saving treatment incompatible with pregnancy – such as that for malaria, cancer or HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, access to safe abortion for women or girls who have unwanted pregnancies as a result of rape or incest would become even more restricted.

`As it stands, the proposed change to the Constitution would have a devastating impact on women`s and girls` access to effective reproductive health care in the Dominican Republic,` said Susan Lee, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

The Dominican Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists has pointed out the `catastrophic` impact that Article 30 could have on maternal mortality. If adopted in its current formulation, Article 30 would compromise doctors` ability to provide timely and effective treatment for women and girls suffering complications during pregnancy. 

`When abortion is totally banned, the rates of maternal mortality grow because doctors are unable or fearful of providing life-saving treatment that is contraindicated with pregnancy, even when it`s the only way to save the patient,` said Susan Lee.

Amnesty International is calling on the Congress of the Dominican Republic to reject the current formulation of constitutional Article 30 `since conception to death` and take all necessary measures to ensure that safe and legal abortion services are available, accessible, and of good quality for all women who require them in all cases where the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest and when the pregnancy poses a risk to the life or health of the woman.