We gather here our monthly briefing writing efforts on the international context in regards to the state of the art and developments of abortion rights on the local, national and global levels. This collection was determined based on what we find relevant to the Abortion Frontline scope: Brazilian qualified news f0r the international public, translations of articles in Portuguese to the foreign audience and original analysis and marginal/not highly publicized events and news.
The most important comes from Brazil where potential regressions on abortion rights have been registered in recent years. A lawsuit was filed at the Supreme Court, on March 7th, by a political party (PSOL) and the feminist NGO ANIS that contests the constitutionality of criminalization of abortion enshrined in the 1940 Penal Code. The request’s core arguments is that the criminalization of abortion violates women’s rights to dignity, citizenship, non-discrimination and health, protected by the Federal Constitution, underlining that the detrimental effects of criminalization predominantly affect poor and black women.
In Brazil, as the debate on abortion rights gains an intensity not seen in recent years, a series of episodes of criminalization and violation of women’s human rights have occurred. In Uruguay — where in March a judge has unduly suspended an abortion procedure — MYSU reported that a young woman was sentenced to prison after giving birth in the bathroom of her house, unaware that she was even pregnant. In Angola, where access to abortion is limited to women’s life risk, the Penal Code is being reformed and lawmakers are seeking to further restricting access to the procedure (here and here).
APRIL & MAY
In April, Brazilian crisis haD deepened furthermore, prompting colossal political chaos which reverberated in sexual politics. Sonia Corrêa, SPW co-chair, assess the deep connections within the crisis regarding threats to abortion rights as the Senate started processing the Amendment N. 29/2015 – a measure prompted by conservative senators against the decriminalization efforts with the ADPF 442 in March.
In Brazil, in late June, the Federal District Assembly (Brasília) approved a law provision presented by a female parliamentarian determining that women who seek legal abortion in the case of rape should be show images of living fetuses as a ‘pedagogical measure to deter them from the decision to abortion’ (in Portuguese). Feminist organizations immediately launched an online campaign against the law. As soon as it was aired the Governor of Brasilia declared that he would veto the law and the proposer of the provision came public to say that she has changed her mind in regard to the effectiveness of the law (in Portuguese).
On the other hand, regressive views on abortion have prevailed in Dominican Republican, as the country’s Senate vote to uphold the criminal legislation that enshrines a total ban on pregnancy termination. In Poland, the President signed a law that creates obstacles for women to access to emergency contraception. The provision establishes that day-after pill will only be available through a doctor prescription (check here and here ). Then on July 5th, in El Salvador – where a provision was tabled last year to reform the draconian legislation prohibiting abortion on all grounds — a first level court has condemned another woman who has undergone a miscarriage to thirty years in prison (check here).
On July 14th, the CEDAW Committee has released its General Recommendation 35 on violence against women that General Recommendation 19 adopted in 1992. Amongst other groundbreaking definitions it calls for criminalization of all forms of gender-based violence against women, but also strongly recommend the repeal of “legislation that criminalizes abortion, being lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, women in prostitution, adultery or any other criminal provisions that affects women disproportionally including those resulting in the discriminatory application of the death penalty to women”.
On the abortion front in Brazil, potential regression continues to threaten legal abortion already enshrined in the law. Carla Batista and Sonia Correa report.
The statement of the Montevideo meeting on Conscientious Objection to Abortion.
September is the key moment of the year in regard to abortion rights, as the 28th marks the International Safe Abortion Day worldwide. As informed by the International Campaign for Women’s to Safe Abortion, the pre-day bulletin circulated by the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights and other sources in 2017 a much larger number of events, debates and demonstrations have taken place than in previous years (read here.) This year’s initiatives included efforts to have political leaders and academic experts expressing their view in favor of legal and safe abortion. They were also better articulated globally, as illustrated by the Joint Statement on Access to Safe and Legal Abortion Globally, signed by 285 organizations presented at the Human Rights Council on September 22nd.
In what concerns preoccupying trends in sexual politics, regrettably, Brazil appears as the champion of the month, as regressions have been registered in various overlapping domains at once. Sonia Correa, Rajnia de Vito and Angela Freitas report.
As reported in The Guardian, three Catholic organizations based in the United States have poured significant resources, training and guidelines for anti-abortion groups in Latin America to promote the adoption of draconian laws to restrict abortion. We recommend Angela Freitas and Rajnia Rodrigues report on new developments underway in Brazil in what concerns abortion rights.
A similar strategy of inserting fetal rights into a provision addressing another matter is what resulted in the so-called Trojan Horse constitutional amendment (PEC 181) now being processed in Brazil. As reported by Angela Freitas e Rajnia Rodrigues, the approval of the amendement by a Special Committee in early November has provoked a major pro-abortion rights reaction in society. As analyzed in this report, the wide repudiation of PEC 1981 was followed by the grounbreaking case of Rebeca Mendes, a young black women from São Paulo who requested the Supreme Court an authorization to perform a legal abortion. As the request was denied she travelled to Colombia where she undergone a safe and legal medical abortion procedure. In what concerns abortion rights, we also strongly recommend the lengthy article on struggles underway in Poland that was published by The Guardian on November 30th to mark the first anniversary of the massive pro abortion march of November 2016.
In Brazil, in the states of São Paulo and Rondonia, three women who searched for care after unsafe abortions were denounced by health professionals (read in Portuguese), a practice that violates the Ministry of Health protocol for post-abortion care. In Barra Mansa, a city in the State of Rio de Janeiro, a couple was also arrested after the women used misoprostol and aborted, and they are being accused of abortion practice and “corpse” concealment. As importantly, a detailed investigation was carried out by the portal Agência Pública of a website titled “Unwanted Pregnancy” that is hosted by the NGO ‘Center for Helping Women’ (CAM) that has connections with Opus Dei. The site allures women in search of information on abortion as to dissuade them from terminating unwanted pregnancies. We also strongly recommend the article by Manoela Miklos and Lena Lavinas published on openDemocracy, which provides an excellent analysis of recent opinion polls on abortion rights in the country.
And, because we had carnival in Brazil, we have the pleasure to introduce you to Ex-Miss Febem.