Brazil Supreme Court lets illegal abortionists walk: rules first trimester abortion ban ‘unconstitutional’
December 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A subsection of Brazil’s highest legal authority, the Supreme Federal Court, has released a group of abortionists from prison after ruling that the country’s laws that make killing the unborn a crime in the first trimester are “unconstitutional.”
The Court’s First Panel, which consists of five of the Court’s 11 justices, gave a litany of reasons that resemble the talking points of the international abortion lobby.
They ruled that laws criminalizing the first-trimester abortions violate “the sexual and reproductive rights of women, who cannot be obligated by the State to maintain an undesired pregnancy; the autonomy of women, who must conserve the right to make their existential choices; the physical and psychological integrity of pregnant women, who are the ones who suffer, in their bodies and their psychology, the effects of pregnancy; and the equality of women, because men do not get pregnant, and, therefore, complete gender equality depends on respecting the will of women in this regard.”
As a result of the decision, five medical personnel who were arrested for working in a clandestine abortion clinic in the city of Duque de Caxias in the state of Rio de Janeiro will be set free, according to reports in the national media.
Although the ruling by the Court’s First Panel is only applicable to the specific case, it sets a precedent that is might be repeated in other cases. However, two of the five justices judging the case voted against the decision, casting doubt on the existence of a consistent majority on the full 11-judge Court that might endorse a decision that would constitute a binding precedent.
The Supreme Federal Court has been slowly loosening restrictions on abortion in recent years, beginning with a controversial 2012 decision that allowed abortions of anencephalic children who suffer from malformation of the brain. It is scheduled to address another case next week in which it will decide if those infected with the Zika virus will be able to kill their unborn children with impunity.
The decision was criticized by Rodrigo Maia, the president of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies, who called it an act of “interference” with Brazil’s legislative branch of government. He assured reporters that he would create a new committee next Tuesday to examine the issue and possibly amend the decision of the Supreme Federal Court.
“Sometimes the Supreme Federal Tribunal legislates,” he told the media. “It’s an interference with the legislative branch and the Chamber [of Deputies] is going to give a response: to ratify or rectify the decision of the Court.”
The leadership of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops issued a statement unequivocally condemning the decision.
“We reaffirm our unconditional position in defense of human life, condemning any and every attempt to liberate and decriminalize the practice of abortion,” they wrote, and added, “We call upon our communities to pray and to speak up publicly in defense of human life from its conception.”
Abortion is currently decriminalized in Brazil in only three cases: cerebral malformation of the unborn child, pregnancy due to rape, and risk to the mother’s life. In all other cases, killing unborn children brings a penalty of between one and three years in prison.
Recent polls indicate that the people of Brazil continue to be among the most pro-life in Latin America. About 80 percent wish to protect the unborn and keep abortion illegal, and a majority also opposes allowing abortions for the purpose of killing handicapped children.