Abortion in the dominican republic

-the dominican senate has to decide whether to decriminalize abortion or approve a new tougher Penal Code

For the first time, a documentary gives a general and different view of abortion in one of the few countries in the world where the practice is completely illegal, the Dominican Republic. Doctors, lawyers, women’s organizations as well as representatives of both the Catholic and Evangelical Churches speak openly about the social situation and Dominican politics.

In December 2016, the President of the Government, Danilo Medina, vetoed the new Penal Code for penalizing abortion in all cases. In a letter sent to the National Congress, the president proposed decriminalization in three causes: genetic malformation of the fetus incompatible with life, danger to the life of women and in cases of incest or rape. And while the Dominican Senate does not pronounce on the matter, abortion is punished in any circumstance and without exception.

With an intimate viewpoint, highlighting the contrast between the beauty of the country and the rawness of the subject, the documentary, A Light in the Dark, focuses on several personal stories: a teenager that used abortion pills, an herbs vendor that explains how to make a traditional abortifacient tea and a mother who tells how her daughter, underage and pregnant, died in a hospital after the doctors refused to treat her leukaemia.

Thanks to the Creative Commons license, Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International, anyone can download and screen A Light in the Dark in public events, with no license needed, as long as the authorship is recognised and it is not screened for commercial purposes.

The documentary plumbs different aspects of the Dominican reality, their physical implications and the country’s political, legal, social and religious dimensions. Abortion is a taboo subject in most of the world. And when religion, patriarchal society, lack of sex education and one of the strictest laws on the subject are combined, the result is a high maternal mortality.

In February 2016 I felt the necessity to tell this story, despite the lack of external funding. I had enough money to start, the skills and the aim to inform about Dominican women’s’ current situation: incest is seen as something “normal” in a very religious society, teenage pregnancy almost double the world average, 70% of abortions are self-induced and maternal mortality is amongst the highest in the world.

Watch on vimeo

Film Data

Social Documentary/25 min/ HD 2016

Director and Producer: Helena Martínez de Aspe 

Production Assistant: Stephanie Andújar Banks

Cameraman: Boynayel Mota

Editor: José Luis Ugarte

Translation: David Chaves

Web design: Luis Azurmendi Tedín.


Original title: En la sombra

English title: A light in the dark

Lenght: 25 min.

Format: HD

Language: Spanish with English subtitles

Year: 2016

Music: Creative Commons

Documentary license register code: 1703020882173

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Internal License

Do you want to screen it?

Thanks to the Creative Commons license that I have attributed to A Light in the Dark, anyone can download and screen the video in public spaces or events, with no license needed, as long as the authorship is recognised and it is not screened for commercial purposes.

This 25 min documentary can be used for Human Rights organisations, women’s groups, sexual educators, doctors, lawyers, teachers and anyone interested in bringing the topic to the public eye.


I am a producer with almost 10 years of experience in the television industry, especially in current affairs, news and documentaries. I have worked for international television channels like Britain’s Channel 4 and Press TV, I also covered the Brexit for La Sexta and Margaret Thatcher’s funeral for Hispan TV. I have a degree in Audiovisual Communication and a Master in Editing Journalism.

Follow me on social media or contact me on: helenam.deaspe@gmail.com

Do you want to donate?

In addition to publicising the documentary in your social networks, with your financial help, I will be able to get in touch with Human Rights and women’s organisations, lawyers, doctors, sex educators and rural schools to organise talks, screenings and open the debate on abortion in the Dominican Republic.

But for doing this, I need funding. Your money will give me time and energy to research and send emails, credit for international telephone calls since the Internet is an expensive and scarce resource in the rural Dominican Republic, although it is accessible.

I travelled in April to the Dominican Republic and in July the documentary was completed. After many months and multiple negative responses from distributors, television channels and other potential people interested in paying for distribution rights, I decided that this is the moment to bring it to light and try to raise money to spread it properly, with the visibility that the Internet and the Creative Commons license give.

Helena Martínez de Aspe
Director/ Producer

abortion facts in the dominican republic