Dominican Republic high court releases decision upholding constitutional right to life

ADF Intl helped allied pro-life advocates with historic court case
Thursday, January 07, 2016

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – The Constitutional Tribunal of the Dominican Republic has published its landmark decision, announced last month, that recent legal revisions weakening the country’s pro-life public policy were enacted unconstitutionally.

The legal changes allowed abortion if a child simply had developmental disabilities. The court concluded that the law, which runs counter to the country’s pro-life constitution, was enacted illegally by President Danilo Medina, who pushed the measure through without the constitutionally required approval of the nation’s Senate.

“Every innocent life deserves to be protected,” said ADF International Legal Counsel Sofia Martinez. “Ignoring the clear requirements of the Dominican Republic’s constitution to push through a law that would have allowed children to be killed in the womb just because they aren’t perfectly healthy is inappropriate, inhumane, and incompatible with the will of the people.”

The law allowed abortion if doctors determined that a child yet to be born had illnesses or disabilities which rendered the baby “incompatible with life” from the doctors’ point of view.

“In Latin America, we have seen an ongoing political push against life and family over the last couple of years,” Martinez explained. “In countries like Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay, and Chile, pro-abortion advocates have resorted to doing whatever it takes to advance their agenda, even if that means, in some cases, ignoring or flouting the law. The Dominican Republic court’s decision makes a strong statement that this won’t be tolerated in that country.”

Two organizations allied with ADF International, Fundacion Matrimonio Feliz and Fundacion Justicia y Transparencia, filed suit against the law shortly after President Medina signed it into law one year ago. ADF International itself filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, Demanda de Inconstitucionalidad contra los artículos 107, 108, 109 y 110 de la ley 550-14 que establece el Código Penal de la República Dominicana.

In its brief, ADF International affirmed the position of its allies in the lawsuit – that the approval process for the law was highly irregular and in conflict with the Dominican Republic Constitution. The tribunal came to the same conclusion.

“In this case, a substantial irregularity of the legislative process has been produced with the absence of a procedure that is materially necessary and relevant…,” the tribunal wrote in its decision, released Dec. 17. “The irregularity in the legislative process that we have referenced affects irremediably the validity and constitutionality of the New Criminal Code and therefore must be expelled from the legal system….”

ADF International is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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