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Rodrigo Maia is the president of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies. Jefferson Rudy/Agência Senado
Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Follow Matthew

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Brazilian amendment to protect life from conception receives overwhelming support

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Follow Matthew

November 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A special commission of Brazil’s lower legislative house has approved a constitutional amendment that would protect the right to life from conception by an overwhelming margin that analysts say will be difficult to overcome.

The Special Commission of the Chamber of Deputies voted last Wednesday to recognize the “dignity of the human person from his conception,” adding the language to a constitutional amendment that would extend paid maternity leave to women who give birth prematurely.

The amendment was approved by a 19-1 vote, making it unlikely that the legislation will be modified before passing to the full Chamber of Deputies for a vote.

“It is appropriate to note that if we protect, in a just manner, those who were already living and have prematurely left the womb, granting an extension of maternal leave to their mothers, we cannot fail to explicitly establish, even more, their protection in the uterus, from their beginning, that is from conception,” said the legislator who authored the pro-life language, Jorge Tadeu Mudalen.

The measure comes in response to a recent decision by a subdivision of Brazil’s Supreme Federal Tribunal that would decriminalize first-trimester abortions if it were adopted by the full Tribunal. The decision followed another blow to the right to life delivered by the Tribunal in 2012, when its full session nullified laws prohibiting abortions in cases of anencephaly (a condition in which the brain of the infant does not develop completely).

During the debate over the amendment, a pro-life deputy held up a model of a human fetus and asked of opponents, “Where is the love for women? Where is the love for children? This doesn’t have to do with religion, it’s a (political) position! We are against this mass murder of innocents.”

It’s incredible how they use issues of importance to women without respecting them, retorted Feminist deputy Luiza Erundina. “They don’t decide for us, they don’t speak for us, they don’t legislate for us.”

According to current legislation, abortion is illegal in Brazil but is decriminalized in cases of rape and danger to the life of the mother, to which the Supreme Federal Tribunal has added cases of anencephaly. The proposed amendment would eliminate all of those exceptions.

The amendment must still pass two votes of the whole Chamber of Deputies, and then be approved by the Senate before being signed by the country’s president.

Chamber of Deputies president Rodrigo Maia has told the press that the amendment, should it pass, will not be understood as imposing criminal penalties on women who abort in cases of rape.

“A prohibition of abortion in cases of rape won’t pass the Chamber,” Maia wrote on his Facebook page. “We’re going to hear from jurists so that, if (the amendment) comes to a general vote, it will be with a full clarification that this case (of abortions for rape-induced pregnancies) there will in no way be any prohibition.”

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