One of the tragic consequences of Dilma Rousseff’s failure to win a first round victory is that the Workers’ Party is discussing caving in to the right-wing fanatics and coming out more strongly against abortion. (See the front page story in today’s Folha de S. Paulo.)
Abortion is already illegal in Brazil in all but the most extreme circumstances (when the foetus is already brain dead or in cases of rape).
But up to 1 million illegal abortions are still performed each year, according to reproductive health organisations. For upper class women, they pose no danger; they are carried out in modern and well-equipped clinics in the best neighbourhoods and police look the other way.
But for the poor, these back-street operations are exactly that. They are fraught with danger. Brazil’s own Health Ministry says 200,000 women are hospitalised each year because their back street operations have gone wrong.
That’s hospitalised. Not taken to hospital, or looked over by a doctor, but actually have to spend the night in a ward because their injuries are so severe.
(I wrote this Time magazine piece back in June after reading a study that showed one-in-five Brazilian women of child-bearing age have had an abortion.)
Dilma, Marina and Serra are all content to let that tragedy continue.
Serra is a former doctor and Health Minister and should know better. The PT, as the party that claims to have the best interest of the poor at heart, should be protecting them and offering abortions to those who most need it.
But Marina, a hard core Evangelical, is even more guilty. Evangelicals launched an internet campaign claiming Dilma would decriminalise abortion and that is what caused Dilma to lose votes, according to news reports.
Because of that the PT are cravenly pampering to those fanatics ahead of the second round vote.
Brazil wants to be taken seriously as modern and developed nation. That’s a tough sell while it continues with an absurd and antiquated abortion policy.