For all of President Barack Obama’s pledges that he stands for universal human rights, the fundamental rights of women are likely to be left off the table when he visits leaders in Latin America this week.
The 2010 Brazilian presidential elections marked the first time abortion became a highly debated campaign issue and it followed a fairly American script, replete with allegations that the front runner, was a lesbian, a child-killer, a socialist.
This weekend, Brazilians elected their first female president yesterday, a woman who was a victim of government torture and later a cabinet minister. She has focused on eradicating poverty as a main goal, and was until recently a supporter of reproductive and sexual health and rights.
Brazilian women have seen important setbacks in regard to access to abortion in recent years. A clear turning point was September 2005, when a law aimed at reforming existing punitive legislation on abortion was presented to the Congress without the required support of the executive branch.
A measure under consideration in Brazil would give the rights of fertilized ovum “absolute priority” over women’s rights under Brazilian law and would include “child support.” Human Rights Watch has called on Brazil’s Congress to protect women’s dignity and human rights by rejecting the legislation.
If you can’t grasp the basics — women have minds and feelings, just like men — it’s a short jump to dehumanizing women and girls in other ways.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio da Silva has chastised the Catholic Church for excommunicating the doctors and family of the nine-year-old girl who had an abortion.
A Catholic bishop in Brazil says the mother and doctors of a nine-year-old girl, pregnant as a result of incest and who had an abortion, should be excommunicated.
An estimated one million illegal abortions occur in Brazil each year, yet very few women have ever been imprisoned on for seeking abortion care. That may be about to change. In April, officials took a brisk departure from the nation’s relative “tolerance” of illegal abortion practice, arresting the head of a two decade-old family planning clinic for providing abortions and seizing the medical records of nearly 10,000 women.
Despite shocking maternal health indicators, Brazil’s Congress recently voted down a bill that would have legalized abortion.