Girl at Center of Dominican Republic Abortion Debate Dies

A pregnant Dominican teenager with cancer whose case sparked worldwide controversy over the country’s strict abortion laws died last week.

Her case renewed a bitter debate that has long divided the country – whether an abortion should be allowed if the mother’s life is in danger.

The 16-year-old girl, Esperanza, was battling acute leukemia and ended up pregnant. She needed to undergo chemotherapy but was initially barred by the Dominican Constitution from undergoing treatment because it would have likely harmed the fetus. Her doctors wanted to treat her but feared legal repercussions if they went ahead with the procedure and she miscarried.

According to CNN, the girl died last Friday from complications related to the disease. Doctors began administering chemo 20 days after she was admitted to the hospital, when she was 13 weeks pregnant, but her body did not respond to the treatment, CNN says. She went into cardiac arrest and died.

The mother blasted the doctors, whom she accused of putting her daughter’s life in danger because of the law. Article 37, which states that "the right to life is inviolable from the moment of conception and until death" was passed about two years ago.

"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," the mother, Rosa Hernandez, told CNN. "They have killed me, I'm dead, dead. I'm nothing. She was the reason for my existence. I no longer live. Rosa has died. Let the world know that Rosa is dead."

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