While the debate continues in the U.S. regarding whether life begins at conception, the Dominican Republic has shown what happens when a government says that it does.

In 2009, the Dominican Republic passed a law stating life begins at conception and Rosa Hernandez buried her 16 year old daughter (also named Rosa), as a result.

Rosa was 10 weeks pregnant when she discovered that she had leukemia. Hernandez wanted Rosa to receive chemotherapy in order to save her life. Instead, her doctors were reluctant to give chemotherapy because it would have caused a termination of pregnancy. So both Rosa and unborn grandchild died instead.

Hernandez pleaded with the physicians to no avail. They did not want to be accused of provoking an abortion if the fetus had died. The Dominican government allegedly stated that chemotherapy could be given to pregnant women as long as it’s not given for the purpose of causing an abortion. What an impossible situation. Of course chemotherapy is not given for the purpose of causing an abortion. It’s given for the purpose of killing cancer cells and saving someone’s life. Cancer affects 1 in 1500 pregnancies. Does that mean that all those women have to die?

Rosa’s doctors admitted her into the hospital at approximately 13 weeks but her body rejected the chemotherapy and she had significant bleeding. Despite heroic attempts, she died in the 14th week of her pregnancy and Hernandez’s life will never be the same again.

Insurance companies and government policy should not and cannot treat acute or chronic illness. They are not doctors or nurses. If the U.S. adopts the same policy as the Dominican Republic and 1 in 1500 pregnant women have cancer each year, then 2,667 women could potentially die each year in the same manner as Rosa. Do we really want that?