efe-epaSanto Domingo

Thousands of Dominicans gathered here Sunday demanding the decriminalization of abortion in cases in which there is a threat to the life of the mother or fetus and when pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

The protest was organized by the Coalition for the Rights and Life of Women, which is comprised of more than 100 different groups.

Representatives from the various organizations took turns to read a statement demanding "the immediate guarantee of health, life, dignity and integrity of women through the decriminalization of abortion in extreme circumstances."

Speakers noted that the latest nationwide survey about abortion revealed that as much as 79 percent of the population agrees with the decriminalization of abortion when there is a threat to women's life or health, 76 percent when pregnancy is nonviable and 67 percent in cases of rape or incest.

They also said that criminalizing abortion in all circumstances worsens discrimination, violence and social injustice.

"Not only does (absolute criminalization of abortion) fail to decrease maternal death; it has increased the risk both for those seeking clandestine solutions and those who are denied the required medical attention due to the health personnel's fear of being prosecuted," the statement said.

The crowd praised legislators Magda Rodriguez, Gustavo Sanchez, Jacqueline Montero and Angela Díaz - who also participated in the event - for their commitment to women's rights.