‘Poverty favours the mosquito’: experts warn Zika virus could return to Brazil


'Poverty favours the mosquito': experts warn Zika virus could return to Brazil

Two months after government says Zika emergency at an end, water shortages and weak health system trigger fears of fresh outbreak

Dom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro
Friday 14 July 2017

Weaknesses in the public health system risk another Zika epidemic in Brazil, according to a report published two months after the government declared the mosquito-borne virus was no longer an emergency.

Blamed for the birth defect microcephaly, Zika exposed human rights deficiencies in areas such as sanitation, access to clean water, poverty and sexual health restrictions, the report released on Thursday by Human Rights Watch said.

Continued at source: The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/jul/14/poverty-favours-the-mosquito-experts-warn-zika-virus-could-return-to-brazil

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Brazil: Zika Epidemic Exposes Rights Problems


Brazil: Zika Epidemic Exposes Rights Problems

July 12, 2017
Government Announced Emergency Over, But Major Risks Remain

(São Paulo) – Brazil has not addressed longstanding human rights problems that allowed the Zika outbreak to escalate, leaving the population vulnerable to future outbreaks and other serious public health risks, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The government declared an end to the national public health emergency related to the Zika virus in May 2017, but the Zika threat in Brazil remains.

The 103-page report, “Neglected and Unprotected: The Impact of the Zika Outbreak on Women and Girls in Northeastern Brazil,” documents gaps in the Brazilian authorities’ response that have a harmful impact on women and girls and leave the general population vulnerable to continued outbreaks of serious mosquito-borne illnesses.

Continued at source: Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/07/12/brazil-zika-epidemic-exposes-rights-problems

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Brazil: Court Reviewing Criminalization of Abortion


Brazil: Court Reviewing Criminalization of Abortion
April 25, 2017

Amicus Briefs Cite Violations of Women’s Rights

(Sao Paulo) – Criminalization of abortion is incompatible with Brazil’s human rights obligations, Human Rights Watch said today in filing amicus briefs in two cases before the Federal Supreme Court. Human Rights Watch said that the court should move to decriminalize abortion.

Abortion is legal in Brazil only in cases of rape, when necessary to save a woman’s life, or when the fetus suffers anencephaly – a fatal congenital brain disorder. Women and girls who terminate pregnancies under any other conditions face sentences of up to three years in prison, while people who perform abortions face up to four years.

Continued at source: Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/04/25/brazil-court-reviewing-criminalization-abortion

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Abortion rights at the Supreme Court: a public debate in Brazil


Abortion rights at the Supreme Court: a public debate in Brazil
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
April 19, 2017

The criminalization of abortion by the 1940 Brazilian Penal Code is incompatible with women’s fundamental rights enshrined in the 1988 Federal Constitution. This premise grounds the petition presented to the Supreme Court (STF), on March 7th 2017, by the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL) and Anis – Institute of Bioethics. In Brazilian legal terminology this type of request is named as ADPF (Arguição de Preceito Fundamental/ Interrogation of Fundamental Principles). ADPF 442 as the petition was numbered calls for the decriminalization of abortion until the 12th week of pregnancy.

On March 27th, in Rio de Janeiro, women’s human rights experts and activists organized the first public debate to discuss the motivation and content of ADPF 442 and to assess the potential developments of the initiative. It was organized by the Brazilian Women’s Articulation (AMB Rio), the feminist NGOs Redeh, Cfemêa and Grupo Curumim in partnership with Ipas and Sexuality Policy Watch.

Minister Rosa Weber was appointed by the Court to be the Justice responsible for the processing of the case. On the same day as the public debate, she formally requested the Executive branch, the Legislative chambers and the Office of the Federal Prosecutor to express their positions on the petition request.

Luciana Boiteux, a professor of criminal law, who is a member of PSOL and one of the lawyers who signed the petition explained to the public debate that this step by the Minister was in response to the preliminary injunction attached to the petition, which requests that arrests, police inquiries, judicial proceedings and effects of judicial decision on criminal abortion cases are suspended while the case is discussed and decided by the Court (a process that can take many years). She also said::

“The role of the Supreme Court is to guarantee the rights of minorities and access to state support in certain matters. Because in the case of abortion, as in other topics around which no easily social consensus exists, a parliamentary majority is not necessarily the most democratic solution. The contradictory aspect in the case of abortion rights that we, as women, are the majority, but when we claim these rights our voices can be described as expressing a minority demand, which will not necessarily be recognized by parliaments.”

The petition also recaptures key definitions settled by Supreme Court Justices in three previous decisions: one authorizing the development of stem cell research in Brazil (2010), one granting the right to abortion in the case of anencephaly (2012) and the opinion and voting of the First Group of the Court in November 2016 when examining an Habeas Corpus request in the case of health professionals indicted for working in a clandestine abortion clinic in Rio de Janeiro….

The Federal Prosecutor for Citizenship Rights, Deborah Duprat, agreed with other panelists that time is ripe to request from the Supreme Court a juridical solution for the violations that derive from criminalisation of abortion. She also reminded everyone that because abortion is criminalised many doctors continue to refuse to do abortion in cases when it is legal (rape, to save women’s lives and anencephaly) because they fear being punished. She also suggested that when calling the attention of the Court to the tragedy of individual cases of death and detrimental health impacts related to unsafe abortion, and the arbitrary treatment or punishment suffered by women, it is important to show how these effects differ across class and racial lines. Duprat has also insisted on the premise raised by others on the panel that the right to one’s own body “is at the core of the principles of dignity, freedom and equality”.

Other speakers included Beatriz Galli of Ipas Brazil and Lúcia Xavier, who coordinates the Black feminist NGO Criola and is a member of the Brazilian Articulation of Black Women…

The results of an opinion poll on social perceptions on abortion decision, conducted by Catholics for the Right to Decide and one main poll institute (IPOBE) in mid-February 2017, were also made public. The poll showed that 64% of a representative sample considered that the decision about terminating a pregnancy is exclusively the decision of the woman; only 9% thought the decision should be shared with husbands or partners; 6% named the Judiciary as the power that should decide; 4% the churches; and merely 1% that the Presidency or the National Congress should have a voice in this matter…

FULL REPORT/VISUAL: Sexuality Policy Watch, by Paula Guimarães and Sonia Corrêa, 11 April 2017


Source, International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/abortion-rights-at-the-supreme-court-a-public-debate-in-brazil/

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Petition to Supreme Court of Brazil seeks decriminalization of abortion


PRESS RELEASE: Petition to Supreme Court of Brazil seeks decriminalization of abortion
March 7, 2017, by Safe Abortion

A petition was filed today, 7 March 2017, with the Brazilian Supreme Court which calls for the decriminalization of abortion on request up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. The petition was filed by the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL), with support from Anis - Institute of Bioethics.

The petition – calling for decriminalization of abortion on request up to 12 weeks of pregnancy – has been signed by a group of women lawyers and filed with the Brazilian Supreme Court to day, 7 March 2017.

It has been presented on the eve of International Women’s Day on 8 March, a day on which an international general strike will take place, with women taking the day off from both paid and unpaid labour in protest against oppression.

In Latin America, many women will march under the slogan Ni Una Menos (Not One Woman More) demanding an end to violence against women. In this context, the petition calls for the protection of women’s rights so that no woman has to face humiliation, fear of imprisonment or the risk of injury or death as a result of an unsafe abortion.

In Brazil, abortion is a crime under the 1940 Penal Code; the only three exceptions are in cases of rape, risk to the woman’s life, and fetal anencephaly. The latter legal ground was also granted in a Supreme Court decision, in 2012, which was supported by Anis - Institute of Bioethics.

The petition presented today states that the criminalization of abortion violates women's rights to dignity, citizenship, non-discrimination, life, equality, freedom, freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, health, and family planning, all of which are protected under the Constitution of Brazil.

The Brazil National Abortion Survey 2016 found that in 2015 alone, more than half a million women had abortions in Brazil. Racial and class inequalities make abortion a more common event in the lives of women with greater social vulnerabilities: 15% of Black and Indigenous women have had an abortion in their lives, while 9% of White women have. The criminalization of abortion has serious consequences for women, especially Black and Indigenous women, women living in under-developed regions of the country, and all women who are poor, because they have less access to safe, albeit illegal abortions.

The criminalization of abortion causes morbidity and deaths that are almost all preventable. Abortion is a very safe procedure. Yet, recent studies estimate that 8–18% of maternal deaths worldwide are from complications of unsafe abortion, which are concentrated in lower income countries where abortion is legally restricted. In Brazil, research shows that about half of the women who have illegal abortions in the country have had to be hospitalized.

If the Supreme Court of Brazil votes in favour of the petition proposed by PSOL and Anis, and decriminalizes abortion on request up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, they will be taking an important stand as guardians of the Brazilian Constitution in protecting the fundamental rights of women.

CONTACT ANIS AT: comunicacao@anis.org.br

For more information: http://www.anis.org.br

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AnisBioetica

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Anis_Bioetica


Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://us12.campaign-archive2.com/?u=c02a095d6213ac4bd2aed2e81&id=8a4cc80288&e=3fa4c971b0

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Brazil: The panic is over at Zika’s epicenter. But for many, the struggle has just begun.


The panic is over at Zika’s epicenter. But for many, the struggle has just begun.
By Marina Lopes and Nick Miroff
February 7, 2017

RECIFE, Brazil — In this city at the heart of the Zika outbreak, the gloom and dread have lifted from maternity hospitals and delivery rooms.

The scary government posters with giant mosquitoes have mostly come down. Fertility clinics are busy again. At one public hospital that has delivered 1,700 newborns over the past five months, doctors haven’t seen a single case of Zika-related birth defects.

Continued at source: Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/the-panic-is-over-at-zikas-epicenter-but-for-many-the-struggle-has-just-begun/2017/02/07/a1f15178-e804-11e6-acf5-4589ba203144_story.html

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Special Announcement: Symposium on Brazilian Abortion Ruling


Special Announcement: Symposium on Brazilian Abortion Ruling

—Richard Albert, Boston College Law School
Feb 3, 2017

Late last year, in an historic ruling for the region, the First Chamber of the Supreme Court of Brazil held that a criminal prohibition on procuring an abortion before the end of the first trimester violates the fundamental rights of women as well as the principle of proportionality.
Later this month, I-CONnect will publish an online symposium on this controversial and important decision–controversial because the Court split 3 to 2 and the judgment has stirred much debate among lawmakers, and important because the judgment has broken new ground in the region. The symposium will feature perspectives from scholars around the world.

Below, we publish the syllabus of the case; the full translation will be published as part of the symposium.

Continued at link
Source, iConnect: http://www.iconnectblog.com/2017/02/special-announcement-symposium-on-brazilian-abortion-ruling/

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How the Response to Zika Failed Millions


How the Response to Zika Failed Millions
The New York Times
Jan 16, 2017

Almost a year ago, the World Health Organization declared the Zika epidemic a global health emergency, calling for an epic campaign against a virus that few had ever heard of. As it spread to almost every country in the Western Hemisphere, scientists and health officials at every level of government swung into action, trying to understand how the infection caused birth defects and how it could be stopped.

The W.H.O. ended the emergency status in November, but the consequences of the outbreak will be with us for years to come. So maybe now is a good time to ask: How’d we do?

[continued at link]
Source: New York Times

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Controversial abortion case still divides opinion in Brazil


The 2009 case of a nine-year-old girl pregnant with twins after being raped by her stepfather divided public opinion.
Aglaé de Chalus, Recife, Brazil

December 14, 2016

The Archbishop of Recife shocked the world seven years ago when he announced the excommunication of the mother of a nine-year-old girl who had an abortion after being raped by her stepfather. Despite divisions, Pope Francis’ calls for mercy have reassured and reconciled.

“How could I forget?” says Maria José Gomes, a counselor at a center for children and adolescents in Alagoinhas. Th small town in Pernambouc is 200 km from Recife, the capital of the Brazilian state Nordeste

[continued at link]
Source: International La Croix (Editor's Note: A good article despite the source)

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A new ruling in the Brazilian Supreme Court prior to the hearing on the Zika submission


A new ruling in the Braziliuan Supreme Court prior to the hearing on the Zika submission: notes from Debora Diniz and Sonia Correa

by Safe Abortion, Dec 6, 2016

27 November - It has just been announced that the Brazilian Supreme Court is set to rule on the preliminary injunction of the Zika case on 7 December 2016. The preliminary injunction request refers to all demands of the case: access to information, to wider choice on contraceptive methods, to pregnancy termination for pregnant women infected with Zika and experiencing mental suffering, to free transportation to rehabilitation centres and to the disability cash transfer programme for all children with the congenital Zika syndrome.

At this point it it hard to anticipate how votes will go, although it is expected that the Court may deny the injunction regarding abortion by saying they need more in-depth debate on the issue.

The Anis Institute of Bioethics filed an amicus curiae request on the case (as have two anti-choice organizations), but none have been ruled upon yet. We are working to try and schedule meetings with the Justices before 7 December.

1 December On 29 November, when ruling on a case involved the release of five employees accused of illegal abortion in a clandestine abortion clinic in a city neighbouring Rio de Janeiro, three Supreme Court Justices (members of one of the Court’s two chambers, composed of five Justices) went further than the case involved and ruled that abortion should not be a crime if performed in the first three months of pregnancy.

This extended opinion was delivered on 29 November by Justice Luís Roberto Barroso, accompanied by two other Judges, Rosa Weber and Edson Fachin. This opinion went beyond sustaining the release of the clinic staff to weave an argument in defence of the decriminalization of abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

A news report on the judgement explains: ‘For Justice Luís Roberto Barroso, the anti-abortion articles in the Criminal Code disrespect women’s basic rights. “Women bear alone the burden of pregnancy. Therefore, there will only exist gender equality if women have the right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy or not,” he wrote in his decision. Moreover, anti-abortion laws penalize low-income women who don’t have access to private clinics that would perform abortions in secret. Barroso said that the state should avoid pregnancy interruptions – but with sexual education policies and the distribution of contraceptive methods.’ See: plus55, 30 November 2016.
Debora Diniz continues: It is important to clarify, as there’s been some confusion even in the national media, that this decision does not mean the decriminalization of abortion in Brazil: it is just one case, and according to our procedural law, it is not a binding precedent. It is, however, a clear and strategic message, led by Justice Cardoso (who was the lawyer of our anencephaly case), that some Justices are ready to ask the right question on abortion cases, which is: how can abortion be considered a crime under the Brazilian Constitution’s provisions on gender equality, dignity, and right to health?

It is also a relevant framing for our Zika case, although they may not get into this debate specifically next week when ruling on the preliminary injunctions – but it may be of great importance for the final decision, whenever it comes. And it is a debate that we can work to further develop on other cases as well. The christian fundamentalist caucus at the National Congress is already making noise to push back against the new ruling, but this is nothing new, it is more of the same of what they have been doing over the last 10 years.

4 November

Sonia Correa writes: This was the first time the Court has expressed a comprehensive position on abortion rights. Four years ago, when considering termination of pregnancy in the case of anencephaly and stem cell research, the Court solidly affirmed that the absolute right to life from conception was not enshrined in the Brazilian Constitution. Judge Barroso’s opinion expresses the understanding that the fundamental rights of women provided for in the 1988 Constitution make the complete criminalization of abortion unconstitutional, as defined in the 1940 Penal Code, which is still in force today. According to Judge Barroso, while the potential life of the fetus is obviously relevant, the criminalization of abortion before the end of the first trimester of pregnancy violates several fundamental rights of women granted by the 1988 Constitution: personal autonomy, physical and mental integrity, sexual and reproductive rights and gender equality. The opinion also refers to racial inequality and discrimination and considers that the law as it is does not sufficiently observe the principle of proportionality necessary for the fair application of criminal justice.

Unfortunately, as soon as the news of the Court’s opinions was made public, members of the House of Representatives created a committee whose aims was to contest the judgment as a breach of interference by the Court in “a matter that is fundamentally the responsibility of the legislature”. It is worth remembering that this is an overtly conservative legislature, which has been openly attacking abortion rights since it was elected in 2015, and that a number of regressive bills are pending for a final vote, including the nefarious provisions that grant rights to the “unborn” (Statute of the Unborn) and make abortion a heinous and punishable crime under any circumstances. It is impossible to predict the unfolding of this pitched battle over abortion that now appears to divide the powers of the Brazilian republic nor the effect on the hearing on 7 December.

We will continue publishing reports as events unfold. The Sexuality Policy Watch newsletter will carry an expanded version of Sonia Correa’s analysis above later this week.

SOURCES: Email from Debora Diniz; plus55, 30 November 2016; Email from Sonia Correa;

See also the Campaign newsletter from 23 November for a full report on the Zika hearing scheduled for 7 December.
Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion

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