Brazil’s Abortion Activists Hamstrung by Pro-Life Victory in Argentina
NEW YORK, August 24 (C-Fam) Abortion groups want Brazil’s Supreme Court to bypass the country’s legislature and declare the Brazil’s abortion laws unconstitutional. But pro-life politicians, who make up the majority of the country’s Parliament, oppose the move.
“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,” says a statement from pro-Life, Evangelical, and Catholic coalitions of legislators in response to the hearings the Supreme Court held on the subject earlier this month.
In the statement, legislators urged Brazil’s Christians to pray that attempts to decriminalize abortion fail and to support pro-life efforts to defeat them.
The hearings were held in front of Supreme Court Justice Rosa Weber following a petition of the Socialist party.
Over 50 experts on law, health, and public policy were heard over two days making the case both for and against abortion using legal, economic, demographic, and public health arguments.
International abortion groups were represented in force, claiming that abortion is an international right based on the non-binding recommendations of UN treaty bodies.
Anand Grover, an Indian lawyer, and professor at the Jesuit Georgetown Law Center, made the public health case for abortion on behalf of the abortion group IPAS. Grover was the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to health from 2008 to 2014 and was one of the first UN experts to promote the notion that abortion should be decriminalized in every circumstance. He had the luxury of citing his own UN reports as a legal authority for Brazil’s court.
Maria Jose Rosado Nunes, a professor at the Pontifical University of Sao Paulo, spoke on behalf of the Brazilian group Catholics for a Right to Choose. “It is immoral that others decide what a woman may or may not do with her body,” she said.
Fabiana Severo, a public defense attorney who represented the National Council for Human Rights, echoed the opinions of the UN Human Rights Committee. “The freedom of a woman to interrupt her pregnancy does not violate the right to life. On the contrary. It consecrates her own right to life,” she said.
According to international law experts who signed the San Jose Articles in 2011 these claims are not legitimate and should be rejected by courts because international human rights law should actually be used by states to protect children from abortion.
Pro-life Senator Magno Malta was adamant during the hearings that the Supreme Court was being drawn into judicial activism. “We might as well dissolve the Parliament!” he said at one point. He threatened that if the Supreme Court were to strike down the country’s abortion laws, he would make a bill to give children in the womb the same protections as the eggs of sea turtles.
Weber acknowledged that abortion is an “extremely sensitive” issue but disagreed with those who said the Supreme Court could not weigh on the subject.
Now it is up to Brazil’s Attorney General, Raquel Dodge, to request a definitive decision from the Court. This was expected within 10 days of the hearings that concluded on August 7, a deadline the Attorney General has missed. Perhaps the pro-life legislators’ stern warnings and the recent rejection of Abortion by Brazil’s southern neighbor Argentina are deterring the Attorney General from further pursuing this contentious debate in the judiciary.