US/World

Teen with Leukemia, Who Had to Choose Between Abortion and Chemotherapy, Dies

The young girl in the Dominican Republic who found herself in the center for the abortion debate there has passed away, CNN reports.

The 16-year-old girl, who has been unnamed in news reports because she is a minor and because Semma Hospital's privacy policy, had leukemia and  although she wanted to start treatment for chemotherapy, her doctors were hesitant because she was pregnant. At the start of the political whirlwind, the girl was nine weeks pregnant, caught in between a rock and a hard place: if she started chemotherapy, the radiation would certainly kill the fetus. If she did not start chemotherapy, she would die.

The Dominican Republic is a Catholic country that has stringent anti-abortion laws. Article 37 of the country's Constitution defines life as beginning at conception.

The girl's mother, Rosa Hernandez, said to the press during her time in limbo that, she knew that abortion was a sin, but that her daughter's life came first.

Twenty days after being admitted into the hospital, the girl's doctors decided to start her chemotherapy. The decision was agreed upon by the Dominican Medical College and the Ministry of Health, following discussions with those in the college, Ministry, hospital and the girl's family.

But Dr. Antonio Cabrera, the legal representative of the hospital, announced today that the girl did not make it.

The patient did not respond to chemotherapy, and her condition worsened last night. On Thursday, her body rejected a blood transfusion.

Early this morning, the girl, who was 13 weeks pregnant, suffered a miscarriage. She then suffered from cardiac arrest. The doctors could not revive her.

Pelegrin Castillo, the architect of the Constitution's Article 37, which was passed three years ago, said that the treatment was protected under the Constitution, but added that doctors simply could not perform an abortion in order to give someone chemotherapy.

While it is uncertain that the chemotherapy would have definitively saved her life, it seems that the treatment came too late.

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