Abortion has always been a hot topic in Brazil and in the context of the upcoming election, a bargaining chip between candidates. Whether positive or negative, there are strong arguments on both sides. However, no argument should be considered more important than that all lives matter.
All, really. We are talking about women who are able to pay for almost dignified abortions, even if they are clandestine, and therefore not totally safe. We are also talking about women who cannot afford to pay for safe, albeit clandestine, abortions in reliable clandestine clinics, often leading to their death if not during the procedure – as victims of a social and political system that silences women in their search for help, in their search for relief from their predicament.
In Brazil, and in the world in general, the discussion about abortion is much more about controlling the female body, than about individual personal will. We must remember that in Brazil, abortion is only allowed – or legal – in case of rape or incest and where there is a threat to the life of the pregnant person, and since 2012 for pregnancies with anencephalic fetuses. Nonetheless, there is hope for a change soon. Even if slow and gradual, as we had for the first time in August this year, a two-day public hearing that took place in the Brazilian Supreme Court to discuss change to the current abortion legislation. The change to the legislation would consist of decriminalizing abortion up until to 12 weeks of pregnancy, without the need for any judicial action. The hearing opened the dialogue on the change in legislation, aimed at deepening the discussion on a subject that has always been considered taboo. Present were prominent social figures, however, the majority of men present, felt comfortable to freely express their opinion on a subject that does not concern them while insisting on silencing voices that are different from their own. And this is not just about abortion.
In a country where the rates of violence against women border the absurd, it is not by chance that the use of the term feminicide is necessary to describe the ever increasing killing of women in the country. In a dossier, published by the Patrícia Galvão Institute, we can follow detailed data and research on the alarming cases of feciminicide in Brasil. In this context, we do need to talk about the high estimates of women who die because of unsafe abortions or lack of care in the aftermath of an unsafe abortion. Women are not only unable to have a safe abortion, but also not allowed to talk about the consequences in case they need to, because abortion is a crime, remember? Sadly, it is not even safe to talk about an clandestine abortion with health professionals because it can lead to interrogation and imprisonment.
Brazil has always been considered the country of the future. May it be the country of a better future, of our better future, with less fear of men and more love for human beings. With more hope to recover from this failing democracy that shows itself in a ruined election, where the candidate with the leading voting intention is the subject of a protest hashtag #elenunca (#HeNever) Why he never? Because he is a living and breathing stereotype of all the prejudices we fight against: racism, homophobia, misogyny. And, not even talking just about him, out of the thirteen candidates for Brazilian presidency, only two have clearly expressed their support for the decriminalization of abortion. A dark and strong conservative wave during this election, frightens us, but what is even scarier is to think that this reality can last for the next four years.
Can you imagine what it's like to live in a place that is almost a farce of a free society?
Gilead (#handmaidstale) is almost there, just around the corner.
Bruna David is a historian and religious scientist, she fights for human rights and is an activist with Catholics for the Right to Decide, in Brazil.