Lucky To Be Alive – Despite Paraguay’s Restrictive Abortion Laws

Jandira Queiroz, activism and mobilization advisor at AI Brazil at the Paraguayan consulate, Rio de Janeiro, delivering signatures for pregnant 10-year-old gir'?s case. (Photo Credit: Anistia Internacional Brasil)

Jandira Queiroz, activism and mobilization advisor at AI Brazil at the Paraguayan consulate, Rio de Janeiro, delivering signatures for pregnant 10-year-old girs case. (Photo Credit: Anistia Internacional Brasil)

By Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International

It was a situation almost too heart-wrenching to comprehend. In April this year came the news from Paraguay that “Mainumby” (not her real name) then a 10-year-old girl, had become pregnant after she was repeatedly raped, allegedly by her stepfather. The girl had been taken to hospital several times in a four-month-period before the pregnancy was discovered.

After finding out the horrific news, Mainumby’s mother, whose legal complaint against her daughter’s abuser had fallen on deaf ears, made a request to the authorities to allow her daughter to have an abortion. But the government refused it, and instead moved the girl into a home for young mothers.

The reason? Paraguay, like many other countries in Latin America, has some of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws – where terminating a pregnancy is only allowed if the life of the pregnant woman is at risk. Authorities decided this case did not fall under the exception, despite the risk that a pregnancy poses to such a young girl’s physical and mental health.

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They are Black, They are Poor, and They are Stateless

Tens of thousands of people of Haitian descent have been deprived of their Dominican nationality and are now at risk of being expelled from their home country.

Tens of thousands of people of Haitian descent have been deprived of their Dominican nationality and are now at risk of being expelled from their home country.

Marselha: Do you have any questions for me?
Woman: Can you help me get this child a birth certificate?
Marselha: Unfortunately I cannot, but I can tell your story.

I heard that question some dozen times in the interval of less than three days as I interviewed mothers whose children were born and raised in the Dominican Republic and were refused their birth certificates.

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“Everyone Is Afraid Here” – Dominican Republic’s Looming Crisis of Mass Expulsions

Hundreds of thousands of Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent face the risk of deportation from the Dominican Republic after the enforcement of a new immigration law.

Hundreds of thousands of Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent face the risk of deportation from the Dominican Republic after the enforcement of a new immigration law.

By Robin Guittard, Caribbean Campaigner at Amnesty International

Maritza is a typical young Dominican woman. At 26, she has dreams and hopes like any of her compatriots. She’d like to study and provide a better life for her little girl.

Maritza’s dreams are quickly slipping from her grasp. Today, she is scared about her family’s future. Though the Dominican Republic is the only home she has ever known, a quirk in Dominican law means that, as soon as the next couple of days, she could be forced to leave her country for good. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Celebrate a Victory for Dominican Women & Urge El Salvador to Follow!

Women shout slogans during a march to commemorate UN's International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, on November 25, 2014 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (Photo: ERIKA SANTELICES/AFP/Getty Images)

Women during a march to commemorate UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (Photo: ERIKA SANTELICES/AFP/Getty Images)

Until now, the Dominican Republic was one of the few nations with a complete ban on abortion.  The law did not allow exceptions for the health and safety of the woman; rape or incest; or severe fetal abnormality.  That changed on December 19, when President Danilo Medina put into effect a new Criminal Code that allows abortions under the above-mentioned circumstances.

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Total Abortion Bans In Latin America Risk Women's Lives

nicaragua woman doctor

Countries around the world that strictly deny women’s access to abortion, including when such access could save their lives and health, also tend to have the highest rates of maternal mortality.

Most Latin American countries criminalize abortions, forcing girls and women to resort to unsafe, clandestine abortions.  According to the World Health Organization, “Death due to complications of abortion is not uncommon, and is one of the principal causes of maternal mortality” and of an estimated 300,000 hospitalizations.

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