01:51 - Source: CNN
Mom blames doctors for daughter's death

Story highlights

The pregnant teen dies after doctors delay her chemotherapy

Doctors say the treatment would violate the country's abortion ban

She finally started treatment after a 20-day delay

"They have killed me, I'm dead, dead. I'm nothing," her mother says

CNN  — 

A pregnant leukemia patient who became a flashpoint in the abortion debate in the Dominican Republic died Friday morning, a hospital official told CNN.

The 16-year-old’s plight attracted worldwide attention after she had to wait for chemotherapy because of an abortion ban in the Dominican Republic.

Doctors were hesitant to give her chemotherapy because such treatment could terminate the pregnancy – a violation of the Dominican Constitution, which bans abortion. Some 20 days after she was admitted to the hospital, she finally started receiving treatment.

She died Friday, a hospital official said.

At the time the treatment started, Rosa Hernandez, the girl’s mother, said she tried to convince doctors and the Dominican government to make an exception so that her daughter’s life could be saved.

“My daughter’s life is first. I know that (abortion) is a sin and that it goes against the law … but my daughter’s health is first,” Hernandez said.

The 16-year-old, who had been undergoing chemotherapy, died from complications of the disease, said Dr. Antonio Cabrera, the legal representative for the hospital.

“They have killed me, I’m dead, dead. I’m nothing,” her mother said. ” She was the reason for my existence. I no longer live. Rosa has died. Let the world know that Rosa is dead.”

The patient, whose identity has not been released because she’s a minor and because of the hospital’s privacy policy, was 13 weeks pregnant.

The teen’s body did not respond to the chemotherapy, and her condition worsened overnight, Cabrera said.

The patient then suffered a miscarriage early Friday, followed by cardiac arrest, he said. Doctors were unable to revive her.

Representatives from the Dominican Ministry of Health, the Dominican Medical College, the hospital and the girl’s family had talked for several days before deciding to go forward with the chemotherapy.

The case sparked renewed debate over abortion in the Dominican Republic, with some lawmakers calling on officials to reconsider the abortion ban.

According to Article 37 of the Dominican Constitution, “the right to life is inviolable from the moment of conception and until death.” Dominican courts have interpreted this as a strict mandate against abortion. Article 37, passed in 2009, also abolished the death penalty.