Brazil already bans abortions with a few exceptions, but a congressional committee with many evangelical Christians voted late Wednesday night to take away those exceptions and prohibit all abortions in the nation.
“To defend abortion, like it or not, is a Satanic, diabolical and destructive act,” Evangelical Congressman Pastor Eurico told the committee. The special committee gathered to consider extending maternity leave for mothers who have premature babies, but the committee decided to take up Brazil’s abortion ban in addition, according to Reuters. The committee voted in an overwhelming 18-1 vote to ban all abortions.
Abortion is illegal in Brazil, except in cases of rape, where the mother’s life is in danger and if the fetus has anencephaly — a condition where the baby is born missing part of the brain and dies shortly thereafter. Women who have abortions face up to three years in prison while doctors perform abortions can receive four years.
Workers Party’s Erika Kokay — and the only woman on the committee — cast the solitary dissenting vote, arguing the outcome was an unfair attempt by the committee’s pro-life evangelical majority.
“Criminal penalties for abortion deny pregnant women and girls the right to make deeply personal decisions about their health and lives, and threaten a wide range of human rights,” said Human Rights Watch Americas director, José Miguel Vivanco. Human Rights Watch filed amicus briefs in two cases before the Federal Supreme Court this year, arguing the court should decriminalize abortion.
In order for the committee’s vote criminalizing abortions to hold any weight, two-thirds of both congressional chambers must vote to adopt the rule.
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