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Girl at Center of Dominican Republic Abortion Debate Dies

(CNN) — A pregnant leukemia patient who became a flashpoint in the abortion debate in the Dominican Republic died Friday morning, a hospital official told CNN.

The 16-year-old, who had  been undergoing chemotherapy, died from complications of the disease,  said Dr. Antonio Cabrera, the legal representative for the hospital.

Her case stirred debate  in her country, as her life was potentially at risk because of  anti-abortion laws in the Dominican Republic.

Doctors were hesitant to  give her chemotherapy because such treatment could terminate the  pregnancy — a violation of the Dominican Constitution, which bans  abortion. Some 20 days after she was admitted to the hospital, she  finally began receiving treatment.

The patient, whose  identity has not been released because she’s a minor and because of the  hospital’s privacy policy, was 13 weeks pregnant.

The teen’s body did not respond to the chemotherapy, and her condition worsened overnight, Cabrera said.

Her body also rejected a blood transfusion on Thursday, he said.

The patient then suffered a miscarriage early Friday, followed by cardiac arrest, he said. Doctors were unable to revive her.

Representatives from the  Dominican Ministry of Health, the Dominican Medical College, the  hospital and the girl’s family had talked for several days before deciding to go forward with the chemotherapy.

The case sparked renewed  debate over abortion in the Dominican Republic, with some lawmakers  calling on officials to reconsider the abortion ban.

At the time that  treatment started, Rosa Hernandez, the girl’s mother, said she had been  trying to convince doctors and the Dominican government to make an  exception so that her daughter’s life could be saved.

“My daughter’s life is  first. I know that (abortion) is a sin and that it goes against the law  … but my daughter’s health is first,” Hernandez said.

According to Article 37 of the Dominican Constitution, “the right to life is inviolable from the moment of conception and until  death.” Dominican courts have interpreted this as a strict mandate  against abortion. Article 37, passed in 2009, also abolished the death  penalty.

Category: DR News |

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Last updated December 2, 2016 at 1:59 PM
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