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Dominican Republic: Policies Fuel Teen Pregnancy

Girls Need Comprehensive Sexuality Education, Health Services, Safe Abortion

Rosa Hernández looks at photos of her daughter, Rosaura Almonte Hernández, who died in 2012 at age 16. Rosaura, known as “Esperancita,” had leukemia. Doctors initially denied her chemotherapy because she was pregnant and refused to end the pregnancy because abortion is illegal under all circumstances in the Dominican Republic~ © 2018 Tatiana Fernández Geara for Human Rights Watch
A girl, 17, breastfeeds her son while checking her phone at her home in Santo Domingo Norte, Dominican Republic, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. She is currently pregnant with her second child~© 2018 Tatiana Fernández Geara for Human Rights Watch

Adolescent girls in the Dominican Republic are being denied their sexual and reproductive rights, including access to safe abortion, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The authorities should carry out a new plan for comprehensive sexuality education and decriminalize abortion to curb unwanted teen pregnancy and reduce unsafe abortion. 

A girl, 15, holds her baby at her home in Santo Domingo Norte, Dominican Republic, Tuesday, May 28, 2019~
© 2018 Tatiana Fernández Geara for Human Rights Watch
A girl, 18, holds her son and talks to a friend at her home in Santo Domingo Norte, Dominican Republic, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. She was first pregnant at 14 and lost her child. She says she only wants to have one child and is currently on birth control~© 2018 Tatiana Fernández Geara for Human Rights Watch

The report, “‘I Felt Like the World Was Falling Down on Me’: Adolescent Girls’ Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Dominican Republic,” documents how authorities have stalled the rollout of a long-awaited sexuality education program, leaving hundreds of thousands of adolescent girls and boys without scientifically accurate information about their health. The country has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). The country’s total ban on abortion means an adolescent girl facing an unwanted pregnancy must continue that pregnancy against her wishes or obtain a clandestine abortion, often at great risk to her health and even her life~© 2019 Human Rights Watch

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