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Brazil's far-right introduces bill that equates abortion after 22 weeks to murder


There are protests in Brazil over a bill that equates abortion with murder, even though abortion is largely restricted there already. As Julia Carneiro reports from Rio, lawmakers tried to fast-track this legislation, sparking these protests in major cities.


JULIA CARNEIRO, BYLINE: I'm outside Rio's legislative chamber where a group of women is protesting, carrying banners saying rapists should not be fathers, and children should not be mothers.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Chanting in non-English language).

CARNEIRO: They're making a stand against a new bill that says abortion carried out after 22 weeks of pregnancy is murder. And women and providers who carry out the procedure could be punished with up to 20 years in prison, even if the pregnancy results from rape.

LUZIA SILVA: I'm Luzia Silva. I'm a Brazil Black woman. I'm here to stand for women's rights, especially for the kids' rights, because this law is really a step back in terms of legislation in Brazil.

CARNEIRO: Abortion is already a crime in Brazil, punishable with up to three years in prison. At the moment, it's only legal when the pregnancy results from rape, threatens the mother's life, or in cases of anencephaly. But this bill limits these rights to the first 22 weeks of pregnancy. Angela Freitas is one of the campaigners in the protest. She's part of the movement, Neither Jailed Nor Dead, to decriminalize abortion, and says the bill would cause a public health crisis.

ANGELA FREITAS: Poor people, people that live in faraway places where we don't have services for abortion - those are the people who suffer more.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Non-English language spoken).

CARNEIRO: The bill was fast-tracked during a heated session in the Lower House of Congress.

ABILIO BRUNINI: (Non-English language spoken).

CARNEIRO: One of the bill's authors, lawmaker Abilio Brunini, argued that it was cowardly to destroy a human life and that there was no justification for abortion.

BRUNINI: (Non-English language spoken).

CARNEIRO: The bill reflects a highly conservative Congress and a far right that has brought gender issues to the heart of many disputes, says Flavia Biroli, professor of political science at the University of Brasilia.

FLAVIA BIROLI: In Brazil, we have a very clear alignment between the far right and anti-gender, anti-feminist, anti-human rights perspectives.

It's a far right that has among its members, very conservative religious men, evangelical and Catholic, but also policemen, military men.

CARNEIRO: Even if the bill passes through the Lower House, it will still have to go through the Senate and President Lula da Silva, who has called it, quote, "an insanity." But this is a show of strength from the conservatives in Congress and their drive to crack down on abortion in Brazil. For NPR News, I'm Julia Carneiro in Rio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Julia Carneiro
[Copyright 2024 NPR]