On April 11th, our colleagues in Brazil celebrated an important victory in the long battle toward safe legal abortion in the country. The Brazilian Supreme Court passed a vote eight to two in favor of making abortion legal in cases of anencephaly, a condition in which the fetus is developing without a brain and is not viable.
Debora Diniz, founder of ANIS and now a member of the IWHC Board of Directors, shared her perspective with us: “The Justices who voted in favor justified their votes on women’s reproductive rights, which expands the understanding of the right to abortion beyond the case of anencephaly.”
Although this may seem like a tiny bit of progress in a larger struggle for the right to safe and legal abortion, after either years in the court system it is both a symbolic and actual shift toward greater reproductive rights.
On April 12, the Secretariat of Policies for Women issued a note saying the Government will ensure that the decision of the Supreme Court is enforced in the public health system.
Here’s what some of the Supreme Court judges had to say during the hearing:
“Being a martyr must an option. If anyone wants to carry the pregnancy to term, she can do it. Nobody will prohibit it… However, being forced to carry to term a pregnancy of an anencephalic fetus puts a women in a prison in her own body.” -Justice Marco Aurelio de Mello
“The lack of an appropriate institutional model contributes to this physical and psychological torture, causing harm (sometimes irreparable) to the lives of the women who are affected” -Justice Gilmar Mendes
“Why punish this woman who is already going through a human tragedy?” -Justice Luis Fux