UN slams Brazil’s bill that would ban all abortions

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Thousands of Brazilians protested in major cities against a controversial bill which aims to cut the right to abortion in Brazil

The United Nations on Monday
voiced concern over a bill under consideration by Brazil’s congress that
would ban access to all abortions, even in cases of rape and women
whose lives are in danger. The bill “poses an increased risk to women’s health,” the UN Population Fund’s Brazil office said in a statement.

Women
in Brazil currently only have access to abortions when the pregnancy is
a result of rape, their health is at risk, or in cases of the fetus
having severe medical defects such as anencephaly, when most of the
unborn child’s brain is missing.
The new
bill, which was green-lighted by a congressional committee two weeks
ago, is seen as a “Trojan horse” by pro-choice activists.
Its
initial goal was to extend maternity leave for mothers of premature
babies, but ultra-conservative members of congress linked to evangelical
churches inserted a clause stipulating that the right to life should be
“inviolate from the moment of conception,” which would deny access to
abortions even for women who currently qualify.
The
revised version of the bill “denies women the opportunity to decide on
issues relating to matters that involve serious violations of their most
basic rights … doubly penalizing victims of sexual violence or women
in vulnerable positions,” the UN statement said.
The
organization also denounced it as a “step back” which “distances Brazil
from its international engagements” in terms of women’s rights, and
noted that backstreet abortions are “one of the leading causes of death
in mothers in Brazil and around the world.”
The
bill is currently making its way through congress but faces a series of
hurdles before it can become law. It must first be debated once again
by the committee before a full vote in the lower house of congress,
where it will need to gain the support of three-fifths of law-makers.
Demonstrations against the bill took place last week in a number of major cities in Brazil.

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