A petition was filed today, 7 March 2017, with the Brazilian Supreme Court which calls for the decriminalization of abortion on request up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. The petition was filed by the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL), with support from Anis – Institute of Bioethics.
The headline in the Washington Post on 7 February was: “The panic is over at Zika’s epicenter. But for many, the struggle has just begun.” However; cases have not disappeared, even though the numbers have fallen, and families are coping with the children who were born, as the article reports with many examples.
As many as 70% of Recife’s inhabitants contracted Zika in 2015 and 2016, according to Pedro Pires, an obstetrician-gynaecologist who specializes in Zika. However, that high rate of infection likely prevented a revival of the epidemic in recent months because most of the population has become immune.
Late last year, in an historic ruling for the region, the First Chamber of the Supreme Court of Brazil held that a criminal prohibition on obtaining an abortion before the end of the first trimester violates the fundamental rights of women as well as the principle of proportionality. Writing for the majority, Justice Luís Roberto Barroso wrote that “women bear alone the integral burden of pregnancy.”
Brazil now has confirmed 1,845 cases of congenital Zika syndrome in babies (TORCHZ) in a group of 9,091 suspected cases. A large proportion (56%) of women reported that they had avoided (or tried to avoid) pregnancy because of the Zika epidemic.
“We present the results of the Brazilian National Abortion Survey 2016 (PNA 2016) and compare them to those obtained in the PNA 2010 for the profile of women and the magnitude of abortion. In line with the PNA 2010, most women took medication to have an abortion and half of all women were hospitalized to complete the abortion.”
The session that day ended up being dedicated entirely to the consequences of corruption charges against the head of the Senate. The Court’s last session this year before the holiday break is 19 December. If the case isn’t ruled upon by then, sessions will resume only in February 2017.
“It is important to clarify, as there’s been some confusion even in the national media, that this decision does not mean the decriminalization of abortion in Brazil: it is just one case, and according to our procedural law, it is not a binding precedent. It is, however, a clear and strategic message.”
“At this point it is hard to anticipate how votes will go, although it is expected that the Court may deny the injunction regarding abortion by saying they need more in-depth debate on the issue.”
From the point of view of sexual politics, yet more drastically, the city that projected the global image of a Mount Olympus of fit and sensual bodies, as soon as the games were over has once again revealed its face as a gendered slaughterhouse.
A judicial constitutional review was filed before the Brazilian Supreme Court on 24 August, to demand the protection of rights violated in the context of the Zika virus epidemic in Brazil.
Coordinated by Anis – Institute of Bioethics, and filed by the National Association of Public Defenders (ANADEP), the lawsuit was the result of a collective effort of a broad group of researchers, activists, and lawyers to articulate the demands of women and children affected by Zika.