The plight of a pregnant teenager suffering from acute leukemia stirred up anew on Monday the controversy over abortion, which is barred by the Dominican Constitution even in cases where the mother's life is in danger.

The 16-year-old is nine weeks pregnant and urgently needs to undergo chemotherapy for her illness, a treatment that will severely affect the fetus.

The president of the Gynecology Society, Ruddy Guerrero, said that doctors attending the patient are really at a crossroads, but said that the immediate task is to start treating the girl.

The subject was discussed Monday by the Feminist Forum, which said that "first and most urgent is beginning chemotherapy" for Esperanza, as the teen is identified, and that doctors "should apply the protocols of attention universally established in such cases, without fear of reprisals of any kind."

However, they said, "that alone is not enough. Esperanza's case will be repeated time after time until the legal regulations are changed that allow this kind of situation to arise."

The group said that doctors should have started treating the teenager a week ago and warned that "the time wasted could mark the difference between life and death for this young woman, so we can do no less than ask: What are you waiting for?"

"If the specialists consulted have recommended almost unanimously that chemo be started immediately, why the delay? If the girl, her mother, her doctors and even the public health minister (Bautista Rojas Gomez) have requested the start of treatment, why not go ahead with it?" the group's members asked.

This case, they said, "once more spotlights the humanitarian dilemmas, political trickery and legal confusion created" by Article 37 of the new constitution enacted in 2010. 

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