Dominican Republic activists protesting restrictions on reproductive rights
All photos in this set were taken by Lorena Espinoza Peña of Colectivo Mujer y Salud in the Dominican Republic:

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On April 21, the National Assembly voted by a huge majority, 167-32, to approve Article 30.

This decision will have serious repercussions for the health and rights of women and girls in the Dominican Republic. While the word conception was not defined in Article 30, legislators and the Catholic Church have made it clear that they define life as beginning before implantation. This means that efforts to modify the penal codes that criminalize abortion would have no legal standing. Adding insult to injury, at yesterday’s session some legislators also discussed increasing the criminal penalties for illegal abortions.

By defining life as beginning before implantation legislators and others can then argue that most forms of contraception, including IUDs, EC, and hormonal contraceptives, could be considered as violating the right to life.

The women’s movement is working to drum up international support for their cause and generate publicity in the DR. They have two legal remedies available to them:

•Once all the articles of the constitution are drafted and approved, the constitution then goes to the National Assembly for a second round of review. Legislators will review line by line and it is possible for language to be modified at that point.
•They can put a petition before the Dominican Supreme Court arguing that the right to life from conception language is unconstitutional. Should this fail, which is likely given the conservative make up of the court, they would then consider a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
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