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Abortion access in Brazil

July 5, 2010

The abortion debate in Brazil received a lot of media attention in March surrounding the case of a nine-year-old girl who terminated a pregnancy that was the result of rape at the hands of her stepfather. In addition to the harrowing details of the case, public flames were further stoked when Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho announced that the young girl, her family and the doctors who performed the abortion would all be excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

The press has since died down a bit, but abortion in Brazil still remains illegal except in cases of rape or when the mother’s life is in danger (both of which applied in the above mentioned case.) Several NGOs continue to fight to protect women and girls’ access to reproductive health care and information. Ipas Brazil, the Brazilian chapter of the international non-profit Ipas, which works to increase women’s access to sexual and reproductive health care, including safe abortions, has produced this video (in Portuguese with English subtitles) about abortion access in Brazil featuring Grupo Curumim and Jornadas. (More information about the NGOs after the jump.)

Grupo Curumim is a feminist and anti-racist organization founded in 1989 (and supported by the International Women’s Health Coalition since 1994) which aims to “strengthen women´s citizenship in all phases of their lives by promoting human rights, integral health, gender rights, and reproductive rights, under the perspective of ethnic-racial and gender equality, social justice and democracy.”

Of the above mentioned case and their continued work in Brazil they said:

The case of the girl from Alagoinha is only one of many incidents that happen every day, which are not in the news and exposed in such an astounding manner as this. According to the System of Information on Live Births (SINASC), from 2000 to 2006, 10,860 girls aged from 10 to 14 gave birth in the public and private health systems of our state. This little girl´s pregnancy has to do with the situation of social vulnerability, lack of information and access to health care, as well as the prominence of sexual violence. How many girls are, at this moment, in need of information, care, shelter and access to quality health care?

Jornadas (Jornadas Brasileiras pelo Direito ao Aborto Legal e Seguro) (The Brazilian Initiative for the Right to a Safe and Legal Abortion) is a coalition of 17 networks, 49 organizations, and eight advocates that coordinates the actions of the feminist movement in Brazil and works to promote reproductive rights in the country.

If you know of other organizations doing similar work in Brazil, please leave a link in the comments section.

(*Note: An earlier edition of this post did not clarify that Ipas Brazil alone produced the above documentary.)

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