The Dominican Republic
Lawmakers working on a new constitution for the Dominican Republic have voted overwhelmingly to protect life, specifying in the document that “the right to life is inviolable from conception until death.”
The vote yesterday was 167-32 in the national legislature, which was responding to pressure from international pro-abortion groups seeking to expand their business operations into the Caribbean island nation.
“A true respect for human life is protecting it from the beginning, the Dominican Republic is ahead of America in building a society where all human life is truly respected,” said Ignacio Reyes, director of Live Action San Jose.
His group was among several that sent representatives to the nation over the past month to explain the full impact of abortion.
Live Action San Jose had produced a video of an abortion and made it available to several national television outlets to reveal the horrors of the procedure to millions of Dominicans.
“We are thrilled that the protection of human life from the moment of conception is now established into the constitution, in spite of fierce international pressure to legalize abortion,” said Dr. Gene Antonio, a pro-life missionary in the Dominican Republic.
“This overwhelming victory serves as an example to the other Latin countries fighting to protect life, that we can win and we must win because the lives of little people are at stake,” he said.
Keith Mason of Personhood USA said, “The people on the small Caribbean island understand that all life is precious and should be protected! We pray that America catches on soon.”
His organization, a grass-roots effort, was set up to support personhood efforts across America through legislation and constitutional amendments.
Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez earlier had convinced the ruling political party’s leaders to approve the life protection.
Juan Julio Campos, a deputy in the party, said, “In the last meeting we had with President Leonel Fernandez in the National Palace he said that we had to maintain article 30 as is, which establishes the right to life from conception to death.”
“Particularly I will accept that position, and I believe it’s the same position of most of the [party] assembly members, to keep the penalty for abortion,” he said.
The lawmaker representing Altagracia province said his nation is a “believing” nation and needs to maintain values that bolster the family.
According to LifeSiteNews, the vote came following a series of campaigns led by leaders of the dominant Catholic church.
Cardinal Archbishop Nicolas de Jesus Lopez of Santo Domingo led a series of marches and protests in recent months, the report said.
Mason told WND he spent about a month in the nation, and the Dominican Republic is among the nations leading in the protection of life.
“All the folks should visit a place like this and see what it does to a culture when abortion is illegal,” he said. “It changes everything.”
In a preliminary vote, North Dakota’s House of Representatives approved a bill that declares “any organism with the genome of homo sapiens” – even one not yet born – is a person protected by rights under the state’s constitution.
Then the Montana Senate endorsed the statement, “All persons are born free and have certain inalienable rights. … Person means a human being at all stages of human development of life, including the state of fertilization or conception, regardless of age, health, level of functioning or condition of dependency.”
The personhood approach within the pro-life movement was sparked by a statement in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that opened the doors for legal abortion in the U.S.
In his Roe v. Wade opinion, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun wrote, “[If the] suggestion of personhood [of the fetus] is established, the case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”
Advocates of personhood legislation aim to follow Blackmun’s reasoning by legally establishing that an unborn child is a full “person,” therefore guaranteeing the baby’s right to life.
“The language, in fact – basically in laymen’s terms – just says that all humans are people,” says Mason.
Similar efforts to establish personhood of pre-born babies have been attempted or are under way in other states, including Mississippi, Oregon, Alabama, Maryland, South Carolina and Colorado, where a personhood amendment failed in November.