Brazilian Supreme Court legalizes first trimester abortion

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Credit: Charlie Davidson via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0).

Pointing to the example of the United States and other Western countries, the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled that abortion cannot be penalized legally during the first three months of pregnancy.

The court's controversial ruling was issued Nov. 29, after reviewing the habeas corpus petition of five employees of a clandestine abortion clinic in the town of Duque de Caxias, in Rio de Janiero.

Bishop Antonio Carlos Rossi Keller of Frederico Westphalen said that the ruling amounts to a death sentence for the unborn.

“(T)he Supreme Court exists to ensure compliance with the Constitution,” the bishop said on his Facebook page, adding that “the Brazilian Constitution establishes that in Brazil there is no death penalty.”

Bishop Rossi Keller went on to say that “a society which rightly protects the eggs of turtles, but allows abortion, is at a minimum a society in which hypocrisy prevails.”

According to the justices, criminalizing abortion during the first three months of pregnancy in Brazil's Penal Code violates the fundamental rights of women to their autonomy, physical and psychological integrity, and their sexual and reproductive rights, as well as gender equality.

They also said that “democratic and developed countries” do not criminalize abortion in early pregnancy, and cited examples including the United States, Germany and France among others.

In the early hours of Nov. 30, the House of Representatives announced at a full session that they would set up a special commission to review the Supreme Court decision on abortion.

Representative Evandro Gussi stated that the ruling “is a flagrant affront to the Constitution which establishes the separation of powers and provides that deliberations of this order shall be made within the Legislative Branch.”

Gussi underscored: “it's the Criminal Code that determines abortion to be a crime against life.”

“The Penal Code never talked about legal abortion,” he added, explaining that punishment is only excluded in specific case: pregnancy resulting from rape, when there is risk to the life of the mother or a fetus with microcephaly.

Those voting in favor of decriminalizing abortion were judges Luis Roberto Barroso, Rosa Weber and Edson Fachin, creating a precedent for decisions by other judges in Brazil.


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