Abortion in Brazil

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Abortion in Brazil

Argentina won abortion rights but in Brazil a pregnant 10-year-old is threatened and forced to have her baby, writes Leonardo Sakamoto.


'Women United Against Bolsonaro' demonstrate in London, 2018. Credit: Esdras Beleza/Flickr

Argentina’s Senate recently approved a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion until the 14th week of pregnancy, for whatever reason.

In Brazil, a 10-year-old child living in São Mateus received death threats from religious fundamentalists because she wanted to wanted to have an abortion because of the danger to her life. Her uncle raped her since she was six years old. And President Jair Bolsonaro’s government tried to persuade the family not to have an abortion.

Argentina realized that the right to safe abortion would prevent thousands of deaths from secret or dangerous abortions. In Brazil, the Supreme Court is discussing a claim that could make abortion legal until the 12th week of pregnancy, but there is no date yet for the decision.

In Congress, very conservative lawmakers promote bills to make guidance on legal abortion a crime or to reduce the list of situations when abortion is legal: rape, risk to the mother’s life, or if the embryo doesn’t have a brain. But when abortion is legal, poor Brazilian women wanting an abortion face violence from many people, including judges and doctors. They say abortion is wrong.

With the change in Argentina, Jair Bolsonaro’s government began to talk about ways to stop Brazilian women crossing the border to have an abortion safely and without punishment – even though Argentina has not yet discussed ways for foreigners to have an abortion.

In Uruguay, abortion is legal without conditions. The woman needs to live in the country for at least one year. In Colombia, abortion is allowed when there is a risk to a woman’s physical and mental health. This increases the number of legal possibilities. Foreigners, including Brazilians, have gone to Colombian private clinics.

But travel is expensive. Private Brazilian clinics already do secret abortions safely for richer families. As usual, the problem is that there is no help for poor women. In South America, French Guiana, and Guyana also allow abortion. Maíra Kubik Mano is a gender and diversity researcher and professor at the Federal University of Bahia. She says that the change in Argentina was possible after powerful protests by women for a long time and a new progressive government and a parliament with 40 per cent of female members. This puts Argentina 19th out of 191 on the UN’s gender representation list. Most of the population in Brazil are women but, only 14.5 per cent of Congress are female. This means Brazil is in 140th on the same list.

Cases like the raped 10-year-old girl show that we are getting nearer and nearer to a dystopia – like the TV series The Handmaid’s Tale – and not to rights-based society.

Soon after the vote, Bolsonaro posted on his Twitter account, ‘I am very sorry that Argentine children are losing their lives with government agreement. My government and I will do everything to make sure abortion is never legal in Brazil.’ He is preparing to use the issue in his campaign for re-election in 2022.

Argentina is perhaps experiencing a very serious economic crisis. But, as a civilized country, it continues to be ahead of Brazil.



(This article is in easier English so it is possible that we changed the words, the text structure, and the quotes.)