RIO DE JANEIRO, October 22, 2004 ( –  The Brazilian Supreme Federal Tribunal in a 7-4 vote, has outlawed abortions for anencephalic babies which had become legal in July.

The killing of children with underdeveloped brains was introduced to expand the existing abortion laws that allow abortion for women whose pregnancy is the result of rape, or if a pregnancy endangers the mother’s life. There is no medical evidence showing any threat to the mother of a child suffering from anencephaly.

The move was opposed by the Attorney General as well as the Brazilian bishops who said the child “must be respected regardless of the phase or condition in which it is found.”

International abortion advocacy groups such as the UNFPA have long considered Brazil more malleable in moral issues than most Latin American countries. In July, pro-lifers warned that allowing anencephalic children to be killed would pave the way for other eugenic abortions such as are common in North America where children with Down’s syndrome are routinely targeted.

The Health Ministry of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s leftist government is pushing to relax Brazil’s abortion restrictions but Attorney General Claudio Fonteles is a staunch Catholic. In July, after one justice granted the decision, Fonteles said, if “there is life within the womb,” it is not legal to kill it.

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