Abortion – banned topic in Brazil

Image: PNW Production


In our country there is a moral ban on the democratic and republican debate on the right to abortion that permeates all powers, even leading to setbacks even in cases provided for by law

French President Emmanuel Macron has an agenda in Brazil at the end of this month. Among urgent issues on the agenda such as the Mercosur-European Union trade agreement, the climate emergency, defense issues, the war in Ukraine – and probably the barbarity committed against the Palestinian people as France and Brazil have similar assessments –, it is hoped that there will be time for a conversation tete à tete with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva about how French feminists managed to advance in their struggles for five decades to enshrine the guaranteed freedom to abortion in the revolutionary Constitution of 1789.

It is important to understand what “guaranteed freedom” means. Being a constitutional right, any adjectives are unnecessary. However, the word “guaranteed” refers to a fundamental freedom that cannot be exercised alone, as it requires women who wish to terminate their pregnancies to count on the support of the State, which is obliged to guarantee this right.

This “guaranteed freedom” is fundamental to bring legal frameworks closer to real life, preventing “voluntary termination of pregnancy” (IVG) centers from having shortfalls in the financing of social policies, which would complicate access and the effectiveness of an existing right and put in question about sticking to the legal deadline for terminating pregnancy. With the constitutionalization of the right to abortion, it will no longer be possible to prohibit or restrict such access, with impacts on the budget. This reminds us that feminists face not only patriarchy on a daily basis, but also austerity policies that repeatedly cut resources in areas essential to the sphere of social reproduction, making it even more difficult for women to reconcile family life and work.

Emmanuel Macron reaps the laurels of this historic achievement of French society, made possible thanks to another no less strategic advance: the mandatory equality of candidacies for men and women on the electoral lists, adopted in 2000 and improved since then. Feminists have never accepted quotas below absolute parity, which has allowed an accelerated feminization of political representation in parliament, municipal councils and city halls in this century.

Because they were more numerous, women were also able to be more active. Among parliamentarians, the number of feminists increased significantly. They began to submit law proposals with a view to making the voluntary termination of pregnancy a fundamental right. This unprecedented nature begins in 2017 and continues with proposals presented by different left-wing parties until 2022, when a first majority is reached in the Legislative Assembly, culminating in 2023, when a proposal enters the Senate.

On March 8, 2023, President Emmanuel Macron takes up the flag and commits to the constitutionalization of the right to abortion, mobilizing his majority in favor of a bill that would establish a compromise between the proposals being debated in the Assembly and in the Senate. As happened in Brazil during the constituent process with the female bench, French deputies and senators began to join forces together, until the bill was finally ratified in the Senate (28/02/2024), without any modification to the text initially approved in the Assembly (30/01/2024).

When the feminist anthem takes over Versailles on March 4, 2024, where Congress approves by 780 votes against 72 (and 50 abstentions), the constitutionalization of abortion, with the support of parties from the left, center, right, and even part From the extreme right, women “without history” make history and break chains. It's impossible not to get emotional.

The presence of more women in parliament is a fundamental indicator of the government's commitment to gender equality and increases the possibility of promoting proposals that directly affect the female population, such as sexual education in schools, efficient and comprehensive family planning programs, the interruption voluntary pregnancy.

Unfortunately, Brazil occupies the last position in South America in the proportion of women in the National Congress and political parties amnesty themselves, in a flagrant offense of non-compliance with quotas for women and black people, showing themselves more interested in raising money for their associations than seek to democratize politics.

In our country there is a moral ban on the democratic and republican debate on the right to abortion that permeates all powers, even leading to setbacks even in cases provided for by law, access to which has been hampered in the name of a religious agenda. Minister Rosa Weber's vote, in favor of ADPF 442, which proposes the decriminalization of abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, cannot be buried.

This vote presents fundamental legal bases for the advancement of this agenda in the STF, as well as for the executive's commitment to this right, which has been denied to Brazilian women and girls for decades by the powers of the republic, under arguments that it is electorally inconvenient or premature to debate such a subject. in a conservative society. Let's remember that it is in clashes that more accurate and less prejudiced understandings about society's demands are forged. Let's not forget how the quota policy at universities divided society before silencing its opponents.

May the example of France reinforce the value of the secular State and democratic pluralism in Brazil, remembering that what is at stake is a right of choice that respects both positions against abortion and those that defend the right to interrupt a pregnancy. safely.

*Lena Lavinas She is a senior professor at the UFRJ Institute of Economics. Author, among other books, of The Takeover of Social Policy by Financialization: The Brazilian Paradox (Palgrave Macmillan).

*Jacqueline Pitanguy, sociologist, executive coordinator of the NGO CEPIA, former president of the National Council for Women's Rights.

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