Sexuality Policy Watch

Brazil is accused at the UN of violations of the right to legal abortion

Originally from Jamil Chade,UOL columnist in Geneva

Translation to English by Giulia de Vito


Image: ONU/ Elma Okic

Civil society organisations have appealed to the United Nations, asking international bodies to put pressure on the Brazilian authorities to comply with the laws that guarantee the right to abortion in specific cases.

In a statement on Friday, the organisations Conectas, Feminist Collective Sexuality & Health (Coletivo Feminista Sexualidade e Saúde), Anis, Catholics for the Right to Decide (Católicas pelo Direito de Decidir), Medical Network for the Right to Decide (Rede Médica pelo Direito de Decidir), Sexuality Policy Watch (SPW/ABIA), Not Arrested Nor Dead (Nem Presa Nem Morta), Cladem Brasil and Ipas showed “concern about the violations of the right to legal abortion in Brazil”.

“Although abortion is permitted in the country in cases of sexual violence, risk of death of the pregnant person and anencephaly of the foetus, in practice access to the procedure is often denied or hindered, which has a more serious impact on black, indigenous and peripheral women, girls and pregnant people”, they said during a meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The organizations denounced specific cases:

  • In São Paulo, since December 2023, the City Hall has suspended the legal abortion service at the Cachoeirinha referral hospital, the only one in the city to perform the procedure above 22 weeks of pregnancy.
  • The state of Goiás, meanwhile, has passed a law obliging people who are pregnant as a result of sexual violence and who request a legal abortion to undergo an ultrasound examination to listen to the foetus’ heartbeat, a situation equivalent to torture.
  • Last month, the Ministry of Health suspended a technical note advising health professionals to guarantee access to legal abortion regardless of the gestational period, following heavy pressure from conservative parliamentarians.

“We call on this Council and the Committees on Human Rights, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and against Torture to demand that the Brazilian authorities comply with their concluding observations and take measures to guarantee access to legal abortion, especially for girls under 14 with advanced gestational age who are often forced to carry on with their pregnancies due to the refusal of health services,” the organisations added.

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