BRAZIL – Position statement in defence of sexual and reproductive healthcare actions during the Covid-19 pandemic and repudiation to the withdrawal of the Technical Note No.16/2020

by Rede Médica pelo Direito de Decidir (Global Doctors for Choice) Brazil

Global Doctors for Choice/Brazil is connected to an international network of doctors in more than 25 countries around the world who are committed to defending human rights and providing high quality evidence-based healthcare services. By defending evidence-based public policies and medical practices, we have been making efforts to protect and expand access to ample reproductive health care for women and girls. We would like to express our deep disagreement on the withdrawal of the Technical Note No.16/2020 by the Brazilian Ministry of Health. We are also seriously concerned at the possibility of suspension of sexual and reproductive healthcare services in Brazil due to contingency measures in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We were perplexed by the suspension of the recommendations from the Technical Report. These recommendations have been widely recognized by international entities such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO). Their withdrawal will have a severe impact on Brazilian women’s sexual and reproductive health, e.g. lack of access to highly effective contraception.

We also would like to highlight the shameful gender disparity in our country and the tragic reality Brazilian women and girls face: every ten minutes, one rape occurs in Brazil. 4 Many victims of sexual violence end up becoming pregnant as a result of the rape – a second violence. Abortion in Brazil is permitted to save a woman’s life, in cases of rape since 19405 or in cases of fetal anencephaly since 2012. Legal abortion is, therefore, an essential healthcare and should be guaranteed to Brazilian women, particularly during this pandemic.

We reaffirm that all services related to the care of victims of sexual violence, legal abortion, prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, emergency contraception and to the provision of modern and highly effective contraceptives should be considered essential during the pandemic. Thus, we recommend that public managers, gynecologists and obstetricians, family practitioners and all those professionally involved in sexual and reproductive healthcare maintain health services directed to Brazilian women and organize their programs to guarantee women’s reproductive rights… (recommendations follow)…

FULL STATEMENT, by Helena Borges Martins da Silva Paro, Professora da Universidade Federal de Uberlândia; Rede Feminista de Ginecologistas e Obstetras; Rede Médica pelo Direito de Decidir, and Cristião Fernando Rosas, Médico Toco-Ginecologista e Coordenador da Rede Médica pelo Direito de Decidir, in Spanish and English