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Dominican Republic

This Caribbean nation is still under the concordat of a long-gone dictator. Furthermore, in 2009 the Vatican managed to get Church doctrine enshrined in the Dominican constitution, a move which it had tried and failed to accomplish elsewhere.

In a landmark ruling in 2008 the Dominican Supreme Court ruled that the concordat made under Trujillo was constitutional. With the dissent of only two of the 17 Justices, the high court the challenge on constitutional grounds filed by many Protestant groups.

According to the judgement, although the State assumes the obligation to teach the Catholic religion and moral education in elementary and secondary public schools, this in no way prohibits education in another religion there, nor has it been established that the concordat would prevent this. [1]

The next development was the 2009 revision of the constitution in to incorporate Vatican doctrines. Among these was an effective ban on abortion which resulted from defining people as existing "from the moment of conception".

In 2012 this constitutional clause delayed the treatment of a pregnant 16-year old who was dying of acute leukemia. She needed chemotherapy, but the doctors were afraid to give it, in case this caused a miscarriage. Women's and human rights groups protested and the girl's mother pleaded for her life, yet the doctors only dared to begin treatment — after a 20-days' delay — when the Minister of Health finally stepped in. But by then it was too late. [2] Two months after the girl died a law was passed to add concrete penalties to the constitutional provision. These threatened the woman herself and anyone who tries to help her get an abortion with up to ten years in prison. [3]

Then, at the end of 2014, the Chamber of Deputies  passed amendment to the Criminal Code, to to allow abortion in cases of rape, incest, a deformed foetus or when a woman's life is in danger. However, a year later this was overturned by the Supreme Court, with opponents of the law arguing that it violated the 2009 Vatican-inspired Constitutional amendment stating that life begins at conception. [4] Human rights groups estimate that nearly 85,000 clandestine abortions are performed every year in the Dominican Republic, with about 15,000 women being hospitalised in serious condition as a result. [5] And after seeking medical help they can then be arrested and goaled.
 

Political deal lets Vatican in on new Dominican Republic constitution (2009)

A back-room deal between two politicians made the Dominican Republic the first country to enshrine three current Vatican policies in its new Constitution. One amendment is expected to increase dangerous back-alley abortions and unwanted births in a poor country where more than a third can’t afford enough to eat. But for the Catholic Church it marked a milestone in its programme to promote reproduction at all costs.

Acuerdo politico da entrada al Vaticano en la nueva Constitucion de la República Dominicana (2009)

Un acuerdo a puerta cerrada celebrado el mes pasado entre dos políticos ha encaminado a la República Dominicana a convertirse en el primer país en consagrar tres políticas actuales del Vaticano en su nueva Constitución. Una enmienda dice que "el derecho a la vida es inviolable desde la concepción hasta la muerte". Los otros dos definen la familia (en lugar del individuo) como la unidad fundamental de la sociedad, y el matrimonio como la unión de un hombre y una mujer.

Dominican concordats

After the various Dominican constitutions became successively more secular, the Vatican checked this evolution through a concordat. In 1954 the dictator Trujillo granted the Church privileges in return for Vatican recognition of his murderous regime. The dictator is now gone but, despite protests, the concordat remains.

Dominican Constitution amended in line with Church doctrines

On 21 April 2009 constitutional amendments were passed which enshrine key doctrines of the Catholic Church and could limit human rights, especially those of women and gays. 

Trujillo's Concordat (1954)

Generalissimo Trujillo got himself a concordat the year after his hero, the Spanish Generalissimo Franco, and his, too, made Catholicism the state religion. The dictator is long gone, but not his concordat. On 22 October 2008 the Dominican Supreme Court ruled that this concordat did not infringe on religious freedom.

Military concordat (1958) and Supplement (1990)

This concordat was made with Trujillo, who had promoted himself to generalissimo of the army (and whose fondness for medals earned him the name “chapita” – “bottle caps”). Included at the end is the 1990 Supplement where – apparently with no negotiations – the Vatican was allowed to place the civilian police under the powerful Military Ordinary, Cardinal Archbishop Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez.

Mission agreement with Spanish Church (1958): Excerpts

On 21 January 1958 the Dominican Republic made an agreement with La Obra de Cooperación Sacerdotal Hispanoamericana, called opaquely a "regulation" (reglamento). Is title is El Patronato Nacional San Rafael, a flattering reference to the murderous dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo.

Notes

1. "Landmark ruling upholds Vatican-Dominican State pact", Dominican Today, 23 October 2008. http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/local/2008/10/23/29833/Landmark-ruling-upholds-Vatican-Dominican-State-pact  

2. Only after treatment had already begun did the local cardinal, in an apparent effort at damage control, say that treatment would be alright if it was not intended to cause an abortion.

"Dominican Republic abortion ban stops treatment for pregnant teen with cancer", CNN, 25 July 2012. http://edition.cnn.com/2012/07/25/world/americas/dominican-republic-abortion-teen/index.html
"Bautista Rojas Gomez: 'We must preserve the life of the pregnant woman'", Diario Libre (DL English), 23 July 2012. http://www.diariolibre.com/movil/noticias_det.php?id=344992
"Cardinal favors saving girl’s life in abortion dilemma", Dominican Today, 25 July 2012. http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/local/2012/7/25/44505/Cardinal-favors-saving-girls-life-in-abortion-dilemma
"Pregnant teen dies after abortion ban delays her chemo treatment for leukemia", CNN, 18 August 2012.
http://articles.cnn.com/2012-08-18/americas/world_americas_dominican-republic-abortion_1_abortion-ban-dominican-courts-dominican-constitution

3. "Abortion will also be punished with from 2 to 3 years and includes women who induce or a person who helps. If a doctor, nurse, midwife, surgeon, pharmacist or other professional helps induce an abortion, the penalty would be from  4 to 10 years."

"Deputies approve a tougher Penal Code", Dominican Today, 17 October 2012. http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/local/2012/10/17/45465/Deputies-approve-a-tougher-Penal-Code

4. "Total abortion ban in DR puts women's lives at risk: rights groups", Dominican Today, 05 December 2015. http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/local/2015/12/5/57420/Total-abortion-ban-in-DR-puts-womens-lives-at-risk-rights-groups

5. "Dominican Republic: Court Blocks an Abortion Law", Associated Press, 03 December 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/04/world/americas/dominican-republic-court-blocks-an-abortion-law.html

 

 


 

 

 

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