A mother in the Dominican Republic is both heartbroken and furious after the loss of her daughter.
Earlier this year, Rosa Hernandez’s 16-year-old was diagnosed with leukemia. However, rather than start chemotherapy immediately, doctors at Santo Domingo’s Semma Hospital hesitated because the teen was pregnant.
Since 2009, when Article 37 of the Dominican Constitution was passed, it was declared that life begins at conception. On the overwhelmingly Catholic island, abortions are illegal, meaning doctors face serious consequences should they perform one, or cause one. Under Article 37, abortion is prohibited no matter the circumstances – rape, malformation of the fetus, incest, or even imminent death of the mother. The girl’s doctors feared the consequences should chemotherapy terminate the pregnancy.
Hernandez pleaded with both the government and the hospital, but to no avail. At 13 weeks her daughter was definitely pregnant, and even though she was facing death, she would have to stay pregnant.
The girl, who was not identified due to her age, was in the hospital for 20 days when doctors finally agreed to begin chemotherapy. However, the girl’s body rejected a blood transfusion and did not respond to the chemo.
On Friday, the teen suffered a miscarriage, went into cardiac arrest, and died.
Her mother 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.’
Upon hearing of the story before the girl’s death, Dominican Minister of Health Bautista Rojas Gomez stated he was in favor of chemotherapy over protection of the fetus.
The death of the girl dubbed “Esperancita” by the press has renewed debate over the abortion ban, with some politicians asking the island nation’s government to rethink their ban on abortion.
Despite Dominican courts having interpreted Article 37 as a strict mandate against abortion under any circumstance, one of the bill’s sponsors, Pelegrin Castillo, argues it does not bar doctors from administering cancer treatment, but rather bars them from administering the treatment to induce an abortion.
No matter the arguments and choice of words from either side, Rosa Hernandez is still without her daughter – a reality she wholeheartedly believes could have been avoided.