In the Dominican Republic, protesters are fighting to decriminalize abortion in three exceptional cases

The three causals

It has been four weeks now since a group of protesters set up camp in front of Dominican Republic’s Palacio Nacional. The group has been posted there in hopes of getting the government to include what are being referred to as “the three causals” in the Dominican penal code.

The three causals call for the decriminalization of abortion in three cases; when the mother’s life is at risk, when the fetus has life-threatening conditions and when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.

The movement has received support from various government officials such as Milagros Ortiz Bosch, general director of ethics and governmental integrity, Antonio Taveras, senator, Dilia Leticia Jorge Mera, administrative vice-minister of the presidency, and José Horacio Rodríguez, deputy, among others. Waldo Ariel Suero, the president of the Dominican Medical Association(DMA), has also demonstrated support, alongside Senén Caba, DMA ex-president.

The cause is also supported by Dominican celebrity Nashla Bogaert who, in a video posted on the official three casuals Instagram page (@rd3causales), expressed her support for the movement.

However even with the large amount of support for the inclusion of the three causals in the penal code — which is set to be updated — certain groups are still adamantly protesting against it.

On March 27 there was a march organized in celebration of the day of the “child to be born.” During the demonstration pro-lifers drove their cars throughout the city with blue clothes, flags, and signs some which read “RD es PROVIDA,” translating to “Dominican Republic is pro-life” in English. Others read “Salvemos las dos vidas” which means “Let’s save both lives,” in reference to the first causal. The march was called the “Marcha Celeste” — “celeste” meaning both a light blue colour and celestial, as in from the heavens.

An invite to the march, sent by the organizer, the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo, stated that one of the purposes was to send a strong and clear message that we are a country that protects and defends life in all its stages.” The march received support from multiple churches, not just catholic ones.

Despite the opposition from the Catholic Church, other religious groups and select senators, the three causals camp is currently still in front of the Palacio Nacional. Just this week they have hosted a press conference, a guest speaker panel, and a movie showing. The camp is supposedly set to stay until the causals are effectively introduced into the penal code. The camp is open to the public and people are free to attend their activities and show their support.


Photographs courtesy of Amanda Defillo


Texas abortion bill is anti-woman, not pro-life

How abortion punishment contradicts pro-life claims

Republican Texas state representative Tony Tinderholt has reintroduced a bill that, if passed, would criminalize women who seek out abortions, as well as open up the possibility for those women to be convicted of homicide. In Texas, this means that women who choose abortion could face the ultimate form of punishment: the death penalty.

The basic value held by those who are anti-abortion, also known as “pro-lifers”or at least the value they claim to upholdis that an unborn fetus has the right to develop fully and be born into the world. What’s strange is that, rather than focusing their efforts on this simple idea, a number of those who are involved with the extremist anti-abortion movement use violence to get their point across and make a statement.

There is a long and unfortunate history of anti-abortion extremist violence in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. Vandalism, arson, assault, abductions, bombings, and shootings—abortion clinics across these countries have seen the worst. Sadly, this is far from being an issue of the past. In 2015 alone, a Planned Parenthood clinic in Claremont, New Hampshire was vandalized; a Planned Parenthood clinic in Pullman, Washington was intentionally set on fire; and three people were killed (along with several others injured) in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

If extreme pro-lifers really are pro-life, then why do they use such violent—and sometimes fatal— methods in their attempts to make themselves heard? If one is truly pro-life, should they not value all lives, rather than only the lives of unborn fetuses? What about all the lives lost in these brutal anti-abortion attacks? Moreover, what about the lives of the women seeking out abortions in those clinics themselves?

When it comes to the concept of punishing a woman by death penalty for her choice to have an abortion, the same line of questioning should be used to critique this bill. If someone is against abortion for the sake of the sanctity of human life, but they are fine with implementing the death penalty as punishment for abortion, can their arguments really be taken seriously?

No part of the term “pro-life” seems to track with the concept of imprisoning a woman for life or sentencing her to death for making reproductive choices for her own body. In fact, a belief in the death penalty could be considered extremely “anti-life”.

The proposal of these cruel, sexist bills under the guise of a “pro-life” mindset is misleading at best and—at worst—utterly inhumane. Tinderholt is using this abortion bill as a mirage to veil the truth of the matter: that the extreme end of the anti-abortion movement was never about protecting human life. It is, and always has been, about stripping women of their reproductive and human rights.

Archive Graphic by Zeze Le Lin

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