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In 2010, the Dominican Republic banned all abortion. A very black-and-white move, an absolute, with no special circumstances or reasons a person could get one. Right now, that ban is preventing a sixteen year old girl from receiving treatment for acute leukemia. Doctors won’t give her the aggressive chemotherapy treatment she needs because she is nine weeks pregnant and that treatment will most likely kill the fetus. The doctors are worried about prosecution if they treat her.

Dilemma? Absolutely. When health care providers cannot provide the best care for the patient because of the law, it’s a major problem. And personally, I don’t want my health care determined by a law. I want what’s best for my health.

So, here is this situation in the D.R. with a nine week old fetus that hasn’t even made it out of the first trimester yet. If the girl dies, so will the fetus, but instead of saving the girl, they are still deciding what to do? That’s horrifying! Women’s rights groups are fighting for the girl’s life, as are the girl’s parents, but still she hasn’t received the treatment she needs.

This alarming example shows us the value of a girl’s life these days versus the life of an unborn fetus that may or may not become a baby. At this point in history, religious values of some people in our societies are determining the fate of girls and women. Abortion is not illegal everywhere in the U.S. so people could probably go to another state if up against a similar issue, but laws are being changed in states to make abortions harder and harder to get.

We face similar distressing situations here in the U.S. where a woman’s health is not considered to be the most important issue when she is the patient because of the life of a fetus. Abortion needs to be a medically safe viable option in order for women and girls’ to be in control of not only their health, but their lives.

This young woman’s family is saying, ‘Please give our daughter the treatment’ and yet it is still it being determined whether she will receive treatment. What if the girl were to die and the nine week old fetus to live? The fetus, not even close to being a baby, would have no mother. Doesn’t it seem like the obvious decision should be to give the girl the treatment she needs so she can hopefully recover and live her life. She is still a child. By not giving her treatment, they are killing her, they are denying her the right to live.

I recognize these are complicated issues for some people to address and that beliefs are strongly held that abortion kills babies and that it’s a sin, but really, abortion has been practiced since the beginning of time. It has been legal in the U.S. for only a few decades. When it is legal, it is safe. When it is legal, women’s ability to make choices for themselves and their lives is valued, women are valued. In order for girls and women to be valued in our societies, we must have the right to act in our full capacities as human beings, this includes making choices about our health.

How is it okay to say a teenage girl doesn’t have the right to live, but the nine week old fetus does? We must give girls and women the choice to live. It is their human right.