Brazil Parliament Rejects Government Bill That Would Have Legalized Abortion
by Steven Ertelt
July 10, 2008
Brasilia, Brazil (LifeNews.com) — The Brazil Parliament has again rejected a bill that would have decriminalized abortion and made the nation one of the few in Latin America to allow abortions. Currently abortions are prohibited unless the pregnancy directly threatens the life of the mother or she is a victim of sexual abuse.
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.
Brazils socialist-leaning president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva and Brazilian health minister Jose Gomes Temporao have worked overtime to get a bill legalizing abortions through the nation’s parliament.
However, MPs voted 57-to-4 against the bill, which has been stuck in the legislature for 17 years because it refuses to move it ahead.
The vote came in the Justice and Constitution Committee, a panel in Brazils lower house of Congress, and the government may now finally give up its efforts to promote abortions.
According to a BBC report, one MP reportedly took a mock-up of a baby’s coffin to the vote and told colleagues they were voting to send tiny children to their graves if they approved the bill.
"This bill won’t prosper in the chamber," said Eduardo Cunha, head of the Justice and Constitution Committee.
But Reuters indicated Jose Genoino, one of the few lawmakers to back the measure, said it was needed to promote public health, despite the fact that abortions present women with a host of medical problems.
"You can’t treat this issue on the basis of religion or belief. It’s a public health issue," he said.
However, abortion advocates can’t seem to get their figures right on the number of illegal abortions supposedly occurring in the nation — with Temporao claiming as many as 200,000 and the BBC claming 1,000,000 annually.
The legislature’s vote mirrors public opinion.
An August 2006 poll by Datafolha published in Folha de Sao Paulo found some 63 percent of Brazilians say they favor the current law banning abortions.
Only 17 percent of Brazil residents want to change the law to legalize abortion and some 11 percent want abortions banned in all cases, including life of the mother or rape and incest. Another 9 percent had no opinion.
The Datafolha poll featured interviews with 6,969 Brazilian and had just a two percent margin of error because of the large sample size.
Meanwhile, a Pew Research firm poll from October 2006 found that 79 percent of Brazil residents said abortion was never justified, 16 percent said sometimes justified and just 4 percent said abortion was always justified.
Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid, the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, told a gathering of 10,000 people earlier this year that the church would not back down from supporting the law.
Only Cuba, Mexico City and Guyana have legalized abortions in Latin America, but abortion advocates in other nations such as Colombia, Argentina and Uruguay are trying to authorize abortions there.
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