Constitutional Amendment Would Endanger Women, Girls; Violate Rights
Brazilian lawmakers should reject a dangerous constitutional amendment that would prohibit abortion in all circumstances, Human Rights Watch said today. The proposed amendment would ban abortion even for pregnancies resulting from rape, or when the life of the woman is in danger.
The proposed abortion ban is part of a constitutional amendment being considered on December 12, 2017, by a special congressional committee of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies. The committee approved the amendment in November, in a controversial vote, with 18 men voting yes and 1 woman voting no. The committee could vote on the final text of the proposed amendment on December 12 before it goes to the full Chamber of Deputies for a vote. To become law and amend the Constitution, the legislation would need a super majority – or three-fifths of votes – in both houses of Congress, and the president’s signature.
“A total abortion ban would have devastating consequences for women and girls in Brazil,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Under this cruel amendment, even women and girls pregnant as a result of rape and those with life-threatening complications would be forced to either continue their pregnancies against their will or risk imprisonment and other health dangers, including death, by having clandestine abortions.”
Abortion is legal in Brazil only in cases of rape, when necessary to save a woman’s life, or when the fetus suffers from anencephaly, a fatal congenital brain disorder. Women and girls who terminate pregnancies under any other circumstances face up to three years in prison. According to some media reports, in 2014 alone, at least 33 women were arrested for abortion, seven of whom were reported by doctors after they went to hospitals in need of post-abortion care.