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Abortion, is it penalized in Haiti or not? 

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Since the appearance of the Haitian penal code in the years 1835, abortion was considered a crime within the Haitian population. On the other hand, according to a decree which was published on June 24, 2020 by the competent authorities with the aim of modernizing the largely current penal code inspired by the Napoleon code of 1835, abortion will be decriminalized in this country in certain circumstances. 

The term abortion is defined as the interruption of the gestation process. That is to say, a development that begins at conception with the fertilization of an ovum by a spermatozoon thus forming an egg, which continues with the growth of the embryo, then of the fetus, and which ends normally. term by the birth of a new individual of the species.  

In a society where there are human beings, we must also have legal principles and standards to guarantee the proper functioning of these individuals and this society. So in all societies governed by the rule of law, the criminal law is governed by a document called "Penal Code ". It is a collection of legal rules which define the offenses or the violation of the penal law and fix the sanctions envisaged for those who commit them. The Penal Code thus clearly and precisely defines all the offenses and all the penalties applicable to them. 

This time, lawmakers have rethought the issue of abortion in Haiti in a different way. We live in a country where insecurity dominates the day-to-day headlines, more specifically food insecurity. A country where fundamental rights are not respected, namely the rights to education, health, housing, life, work, security and others. Following the violation of these rights, the majority of the Haitian population is unable to help their own family, see, support someone else. At this stage, pregnancy becomes a big deal among people who do not have enough economic means to raise their children. 

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So, this leads us into a chaos that we call "Abortion", because most pregnant women no longer want to bear their children in the desire to fight against misery, poverty, street children and others, but they prefer a premature delivery (miscarriage). Also, sometimes it might happen in relation to their sexual partner, let's take the case of a person or a group of people who rapes a woman. She does not know the person or persons who raped her and she becomes pregnant; should she keep the child or abort? 

In this case, the new current penal code which will come into force very soon will resolve this nuance which had created a lot of conflict for several years within Haitian society “There is no offense if the pregnancy is the product of rape or incest, or where the physical or mental health of the woman is at stake. 

 All abortions must be performed with the consent of the woman, in a medical structure and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy,” according to the new penal code. 

 On the other hand, the Napoleon penal code of 1835 of which we are using, in its article 262 states that 

 Anyone who by food, drink, medicine, violence or by any other means will have procured the abortion of a pregnant woman, whether she has consented or not, will be punished by imprisonment and this same penalty will be pronounced against the woman who will have procured the abortion for herself 

On the other hand, this old law also provides for the penalties of hard labor in time for professionals who participate in this crime, such as doctors, surgeons, pharmacists and other health officers who will have indicated or administered these means. . 

As a result, as we speak to you, abortion remains and remains penalized in Haiti as a crime (January 14, 2022). However, this will be decriminalized in the coming months, because under the presidency of Jovenel Moïse a presidential decree was issued in order to repeal some legal texts that had created inconveniences and caused harm to natural persons or morals in the old penal code.

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Stevinsonne Young
Stevinsonne JEUNE, journalist and editor. Graduate student in legal sciences at the State University of Haiti Law practitioner in the Delmas peace court.