by Steven Ertelt
January 10, 2006
Brasilia, Brazil (LifeNews.com) — The Brazilian government is backing down on its position in favor of legislation that would legalize abortion in the South American nation. The government sent a bill to Congress in September to legalize abortion and the bill is still expected to be debated for months in the lower house.
However, the government is now acknowledging that its chance of passing is slim.
If approved, the legislation would legalize abortions up to 12 weeks into pregnancy and up to 20 weeks in cases of rape or incest, if the mother’s life is at risk, or if the unborn child is unlikely to survive after birth.
Currently, in Brazil, abortions are authorized in the rare cases in which a woman is raped or her life is at risk from the pregnancy.
A Reuters report indicates the government in backing off its support for the drug in part because of upcoming elections. Due to corruption scandals, the ruling government has lost public support and it doesn’t want to be engaged in a highly controversial topic like abortion that could cost it additional support.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, of the pro-abortion Workers’ Party, has also suggested he opposes the bill, according to Reuters.
Brazilian abortion advocates are trying to use the issue of illegal abortions to press for support for the legislation. They say thousands of women are injured from illegal abortions every year.
But pro-life groups point out that it’s because women are using an ulcer drug, Cytotec, which is not intended for use in abortions. They also point to countries with legal abortions and show that women still die from and are injured by abortions.
In the United States, with the dangerous abortion drug RU 486 alone, four women have died in the last two years and the Food and Drug Administration has reported almost 700 cases of women injured from the drug.
In some cases, women nearly died, many required emergency surgery or blood transfusions and some were left unable to become pregnant again.
"Taking a life is no way to address an unwanted pregnancy," Angela Guadagnin, a congresswoman leading the effort to stop the bill, told Reuters. "We’re not going to let it happen."
In November, Pope Benedict XVI called on pro-life advocates in the overwhelmingly Catholic nation to step up to the plate to defend life. During a meeting with Brazilian bishops, the Pope made a special plea for them to lead the fight against the legislation.
Brazil’s bishops have strenuously fought the legislation. Earlier this month, they called the measure "a frontal attack on the basic right of every human being: the right to be born."
The abortion battle in Latin American nations isn’t confined to Brazil. Only Cuba and Guyana have legalized abortions, but abortion advocates in Colombia, Argentina and Uruguay are trying to authorize abortions there.
Last month, the Colombia high court delayed a ruling on a lawsuit to allow some abortions, and a second lawsuit has been filed to do that. Three votes in the Uruguay Senate kept abortion from becoming legal there.