Penal Code bill sent to Senate commission

The Senate has created a commission to review the Penal Code bill, which was returned to Congress after it was vetoed by the Presidency due to its blanket ban on abortion in all circumstances. This was the second time President Danilo Medina had vetoed the bill for the same reason.

The special commission, chaired by Rafael Calderon, will be made up of senator Ignacio Paliza, Felix Nova, Pedro Alegría, Amarilis Santana, Juan Orlando Mercedes, Amable Aristy Castro, Julio César Valentín and Luis René Canaán. They need to present a report in 15 days.

The new version of the Penal Code has led to clashes between several sectors of the public on the abortion issue, and its approval has taken more than 20 years. The Catholic Church and evangelical denominations call for the “right to life” to be recognized from the moment of conception while all leading medical associations, human rights and women’s groups are favoring exceptions in cases where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or when the mother’s life is at risk. According to Diario Libre, the government also favors this point of view.

The Dominican Constitution (articles 101, 102, 103) calls for the senators to discuss the bill in one sitting. The Constitution establishes that if after debate, two thirds of the members present in the house pass the bill again, the bill shall be sent to the Chamber of Deputies. If the Chamber of Deputies passes the bill with the same majority, the bill shall be published within ten days, and its publishing within another 10 days for it to become law. If these deadlines for enactment and publication are not met, the bill shall be deemed enacted and the president of the house of Congress that sent the bill to the Executive Branch shall have it published.

12 January 2017