A traditional stage for protests in Brazil’s largest city, Paulista Avenue, downtown São Paulo, received protesters late Thursday afternoon (28). With green scarves and posters, they marked the Latin American and Caribbean Day to Fight for the Legalization of Abortion.
The demonstration in São Paulo was accompanied by at least 20 others in various Brazilian cities. It happened amid intense public discussions on the issue. With a favorable vote from Minister Rosa Weber last Friday (22), the Supreme Court (known in Brazil as STF) began to judge the decriminalization of abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The trial was temporarily suspended so that it could continue in-person, but there is still no date set for its resumption. If the minister’s position forms a majority, Brazil will join eight other Latin American countries that allow abortion to be performed under any circumstances, as long as it is carried out within a certain period of pregnancy.
“We know that, in a way, criminalization only attacks the most vulnerable and poorest women. Now that the issue is being judged, it is crucial to decriminalize it so that we can guarantee our rights,” said Débora Lima, from the national coordination of the Homeless Workers’ Movement (MTST, in Portuguese) and state president of the Socialism and Freedom Party-São Paulo.
Under sudden cold weather, the event began with green smoke, a color that the Argentine feminist movement spread to Latin America as a symbol of the fight for the legalization of abortion. “Legalize it! It’s our bodies! It’s our choice! It’s for the lives of those who give birth” and “Kids don’t work, kids aren’t mothers” were some of the chants heard until the protesters arrived at Roosevelt Square, downtown São Paulo.
Jéssica Lena, a member of the youth movement Catholics for the Right to Decide, stated “It is about the right to choose. Even Mother Mary was consulted to be the mother of Jesus. This conservative part of the church, which calls itself pro-life, does not care about women who die due to clandestine abortions or those who choose to have a pregnancy but end up dying due to lack of medical care and follow-up. There is nothing in the Bible about abortion. That is a political issue.”
Currently, abortion is legal in Brazil in three cases: when the pregnancy is the result of rape, when the pregnant woman’s life is at risk or the fetus is diagnosed with anencephaly. However, the fact that abortion is illegal in most situations does not prevent it from happening. According to the Anis Institute, around one million pregnancies are terminated in Brazil every year.
“It’s women’s right to control their own bodies. Also, it’s a public health issue. Women die because they can’t access their rights,” Vera Soares summarized. She is a member of São Paulo’s State Front against the Criminalization of Women and for the Legalization of Abortion.
“More than that, there are girls: those who were raped, often at home, can’t access their rights due to criminalization,” she highlights.
Edited by: Nadini Lopes and Rodrigo Durão Coelho