Brazil Supreme Court Rejects Attempt to Legalize Abortions on Disabled Babies

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 28, 2020   |   10:47AM   |   Brasilia, Brazil

The highest Brazilian court rejected a case this week seeking to legalize abortions on unborn babies who may have disabilities.

The Catholic News Agency reports the Supreme Federal Tribunal voted against the legal intervention, “Direct Action on Unconstitutionality-ADI 5581,” after hearing arguments about the case Friday.

The National Association of Public Defenders filed the case, asking the court not just to legalize abortions on babies with disabilities but also to legalize them on babies who may be suspected of having a disability because their mothers tested positive for the Zika virus, according to the report.

In 2016, the mosquito-borne illness raised concerns across the world because of a possible link to birth defects in newborns. At the time, Brazil and several other South American countries reported an alarming spike in the number of babies born with microcephaly, a neurological disorder where a baby’s head is significantly smaller and the brain is abnormally developed, according to the Mayo Clinic. The condition is not typically fatal, but it can cause health problems throughout the baby’s life.

Though the link between the virus and microcephaly still has not been confirmed, abortion activists have been using the possibility to push pro-life countries to legalize abortion.

Here’s more from the report:

Raphael Câmara, an obstetrician at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, said that when an attempt was made in 2016 to allow abortion in Zika cases, little was known about the virus.

“Since then, we have answers to many of the issues raised in ADI-5581 in support of allowing abortion,” Câmara said. “The first fact is that recent studies show that fetuses of infected mothers are affected only 5% to 14% of the time, with the majority having mild problems, as shown by research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Like most South American countries, Brazil protects unborn babies by prohibiting all abortions under the law. However, because of recent court decisions, abortions are allowed because of rape, threats to the mother’s life and serious fetal deformities, such as microcephaly.

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Pro-life individuals and organizations have been working hard against the pro-abortion push. CitizenGo collected more than 184,000 signatures on a petition against the Brazilian court case, according to the report. The Brazilian Bishops’ Conference and other Christian and pro-life leaders also spoke out against the attempt to legalize abortions on unborn babies who may have disabilities.

“We vehemently reject any attempt of the Supreme Court to liberalize abortion. Brazil’s legislation on the subject of the prohibition of abortion is settled. To promote this debate in the context of the judiciary is an attempt to relativize what our legislation already prohibits,” a pro-life evangelical and Catholic coalition of legislators said in a statement in 2018.

A 2016 poll found strong public opposition to abortion among Brazilians. The Datafolha Institute found 58 percent of Brazilians reject abortion in cases where pregnant women are infected with the Zika virus, the Catholic News Agency reported at the time. According to the poll, 32 percent think the woman should be allowed to have an abortion and 10 percent had no opinion. Brazilians also rejected abortions in cases where the unborn baby is diagnosed with microcephaly, with 51 percent opposed and 39 percent in favor, according to the poll.