As previously reported by SPW (here and here) , for some time now, growing obstacles have been impairing any movement forward in the legalization of abortion in Brazil. Yet, despite many regressions and constraints, feminists groups committed to the right to decide continue to bravely resist anti-abortion forces.
This resistance was sharply illustrated at a public hearing held on August 6th, 2015 at the Human Rights Committee of the Federal Senate to discuss a proposition aimed at regulating access to the voluntary termination of pregnancy up to the 12th week. It is in many ways paradoxical that such a progressive proposal would have reached the level of the Senate level when, after the 2014 elections, the overall Brazilian legislative environment is the most conservative it has been since the mid 1960’s. To understand this paradox it is necessary to briefly recap what has happened in Brazil in the realm of abortion politics since last year.
Between August and September 2014, two young women — Elizângela Barbosa and Jandira Magdalena dos Santos — died in Rio de Janeiro after resorting to clandestine unsafe abortions. While public authorities were entirely silent on the matter, these tragic deaths triggered wide indignation in society at large.
Dozens of articles were published in both the mainstream press and social media networks; a group of feminists from Rio launched a public petition to legalize abortion that would be presented to federal executive officials and the Supreme Court in March 2015; and, in this same occasion, Congressman Jean Wyllys (PSOL, Rio de Janeiro) tabled a law provision on Sexual and Reproductive Rights in the House, inspired by the Uruguayan laws of 2008 and 2012, which include a chapter on voluntary termination of pregnancy (see Grotz, 2015). During this same wave, a proposal to legalize abortion, technically known as SUG, was also presented to the Senate through Congress’ internet participatory mechanism (e-Legislativo) that allows citizens to submit law reform provisions. Since the provision has gathered more than 20,000 signatures, it has automatically entered the formal legislative process.
By Sonia Corrêa