South Africa: Private-member bill set to revive abortion debate

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Private-member bill set to revive abortion debate
Pregnancy termination amendment is intended to tighten conditions for allowing women to have abortions

08 December 2017
Tamar Kahn

The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill has been tabled in Parliament, paving the way for an emotional debate on access to abortion when MPs return to their duties next year.

The draft legislation is a private-member’s bill introduced by African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) MP Cheryllyn Dudley, who previously tried to restrict women’s access to abortion by proposing an amendment to the Constitution to include the right to life of the unborn child.

Continued at source: https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/health/2017-12-08-private-member-bill-set-to-revive-abortion-debate/

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Council of Europe warns on backlash to abortion access

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Council of Europe warns on backlash to abortion access

By Caterina Tani
BRUSSELS, Dec 6, 2017

A backlash against access to abortion in some EU member states in the past few years is "deeply troubling", the Council of Europe warned on Tuesday (5 December).

In the majority of EU countries abortions are legal, but in some states a wave of "retrogressive restrictions" are threatening women's health and well-being, the European human rights organisation's report said.

Continued at source: https://euobserver.com/health/140158

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Brazil: No Woman Should Need to Beg for An Abortion

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No Woman Should Need to Beg for An Abortion

Margaret Wurth, Researcher, Children's Rights Division
December 1, 2017

Last week, Rebeca Mendes Silva Leite, a 30-year-old woman from São Paulo, Brazil, asked Brazil’s Supreme Court for permission to safely and legally terminate an unplanned pregnancy she does not want to continue.

No woman should find herself in this position. But because Rebeca lives in Brazil, where abortion is illegal in most circumstances, she does not qualify for a legal abortion.

Continued at source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/12/01/no-woman-should-need-beg-abortion

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BRAZIL – Developments regarding Amendment No.181 banning abortion

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BRAZIL – Developments regarding Amendment No.181 banning abortion
Nov 24, 2017

Amendment No.181, a provision to include protection of life from conception to the text of the Constitution of Brazil, was approved by the Special Commission of the Chamber of Deputies on 8 November. It would criminalize abortion under all circumstances. Since it was passed by 18 men to 1 woman, the mobilization against the measure has been intense. A few days ago, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia, declared the amendment would not pass in the Congress. An article in Folha de São Paulo argued that the President intends to keep spirits appeased inside the Chamber, due to his hopes of being re-elected in 2018. Debating abortion could create negative consequences for him. On the other hand, Maia is from a conservative party and has joined with religious groups inside the Chamber many times, under the pro-family/pro-life flags. The stakes are high and even with his strategy of stalling the processing of the amendment, the scenario is frightening and his position remains ambiguous.

Very shortly after the Commission’s vote, the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, instead of opposing the measure as regressive, published an editorial proposing to hold a referendum – to resolve the matter via public opinion, thus ignoring the right to abortion as a human rights issue and giving it the status of something that has to pass popular scrutiny. If there were to be a referendum, the odds would not be in favour of women, as the capacity to mobilise public opinion is much greater for conservative religious sectors, who own TV and radio channels and who receive generous international funding and resources in Brazil.

Subsequently, however, members of the Congress have been overwhelmed by a stream of public statements and opinion pieces in the main news and media channels, depicting this measure as absurd. The solidarity letter of the Special Meeting of the Presiding Officers of the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Santiago, Chile on 9 November 2017 garnered 341 signatures by 18 November.

Then a Joint Note by UN agencies – UNFPA, UN Women, Pan American Health Organization (WHO) and the OHCHR Regional Office for South America – was published on 20 November. It expressed grave concern that the measure, if passed, would create a great risk to the health and lives of women and girls.

The feminist movement has been leading the debate, as political pressure is paramount and it has been expressed and supported on many different fronts: social media, newspapers, the streets, press releases, and more. There were rallies in 24 cities in the country on 13 November, including as many as 7-10,000 people in São Paulo alone. In addition, Amnesty International was able to gather 40,000 signatures in a call to action and Avaaz, with its first petition related to abortion, obtained over 100,000 signatures. This is all the fruit of joint organizing and resistance by progressive sectors of civil society, gathered together in the Frente Nacional Contra a Criminalização das Mulheres e pela Legalização do Aborto (National Front against the Criminalization of Women and for the Legalization of Abortion), who lobbied extensively with parliamentarians in order to bring all our reasons why this amendment must not pass into the public debate.

On 21 November, another demonstration took place in Brasilia, the day the Special Commission was due to start reviewing amendments to the amendment banning abortion. Without hesitation, women went into the streets once more (photos) and reached out to allies and potential allies in both houses of the Congress, as well as its President. Our Congressional allies started to pay more attention and said they would attend the Special Commission in order to dispute the terms of the amendment. This signaled to the Special Commission that this amendment must be discussed thoroughly and cannot be decided by an empty Chamber. The review was postponed until 22 November, and the Commission is expected to return to debating the amendment next week. In the meantime, we will seek to mobilize in the context of the International Days against Violence against Women around 25 November. In a desperate counter-measure, a Republican Party congressman tabled four proposals to curtail feminist advances and to increase the penalty for all parties involved in an abortion procedure. Meanwhile, the feminist movement has been targeted by far-right conservative and religious sectors on social media, but this is not new.

Abortion is a subject at the centre of the tension between conservative and progressive sectors. With the rise in the number of seats occupied by religious legislators, it has become a minefield, widening the terms of the dispute from abortion to embrace any subject related to discrimination and gender equality, such as confessional religious education, and attempts to prohibit discussion of gender identity in schools and elsewhere by evoking “family values” as the basis of opposition.

The risk is that although ideologically the progressive parties agree with and support the right to abortion, the electoral situation may jeopardize their rightist alliances, which are part of their voter base. Further, the rightist parties are being contacted by the right to try to find ways to reach and influence the House President Maia. He is key in the upcoming progress of the amendment as soon as it leaves the Special Commission. While he has declared the amendment will not pass, he is also inclined to the right as he and his party have joined forces with the most religious sectors.

Thanks from the movement in Brazil to everyone who signed the solidarity letter and the petitions! We received 390 signatures, which were sent to allied congressmen and to the Frente Nacional Contra a Criminalização das Mulheres e pela Legalização do Aborto (National Front against the Criminalization of Women and for the Legalization of Abortion).

SOURCE: E-mail/photos from Angela de Freitas and Rajnia Rodrigues, Sexuality Policy Watch, 22 November 2017

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Source: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/brazil-developments-regarding-amendment-no-181-banning-abortion/

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‘A Rapist Is Not a Father’: Brazilian Women Protest Proposed Rollback of Abortion Rights

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‘A Rapist Is Not a Father’: Brazilian Women Protest Proposed Rollback of Abortion Rights
November 14, 2017
Michael Fox

Women have taken to the streets by the thousands in Brazil to fight the conservative government’s latest threat to human rights in the country: a proposed total ban on abortion.

“A rapist is not a father,” declared one banner in Monday’s march in Florianopolis, the capital of the Southern state of Santa Catarina. “The rich abort. The poor die,” read another, highlighting the disproportionate impact outlawing abortion would have on poor and marginalized women who can’t access private clinics to seek safe secret abortions.

Continued at source: http://upsidedownworld.org/archives/brazil/rapist-not-father-brazilian-women-protest-proposed-rollback-abortion-rights/

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Brazilian Women Prepare to Protest Full Abortion Ban

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Brazilian Women Prepare to Protest Full Abortion Ban

Published 10 November 2017

The criminalization of abortion disproportionately affects poor and marginalized women, who are facing increasingly restricted access to private services.

Brazilian women's groups will march next week to protest against ongoing threats to reproductive rights posed by President Michel Temer’s right-wing administration.

The announcement follows approval by a lower-chamber commission of an amendment that would outlaw abortion in all cases. Currently, abortion is legal if it threatens the mother's life, and in instances of rape.

Continued at source: https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Brazilian-Women-Prepare-to-Protest-Full-Abortion-Ban-20171110-0025.html

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Brazilian Congressional Committee Votes to Ban All Abortions

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Brazilian Congressional Committee Votes to Ban All Abortions

Nov. 9, 2017

BRASILIA (Reuters) - A Congressional committee led by Evangelical Christians has voted to ban abortion in Brazil in all situations, including cases of rape and where the mother's life is in danger.

The decision was voted 18-1 late on Wednesday by a special committee considering a constitutional amendment to extend maternity leave for mothers of premature babies.

The single vote against the ban was cast by the only woman present during the session, Erika Kokay of the Workers Party, who called the decision a maneuver by the committee's pro-life Evangelical majority.

Continued at source: https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-11-09/brazilian-congressional-committee-votes-to-ban-all-abortions

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President says abortion laws are abused in Poland

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President says abortion laws are abused in Poland
Nov 7, 2017
Polish abortion laws, which allow for termination of pregnancies when foetuses are severely damaged, are being abused, Polish President Andrzej Duda has told Catholic broadcaster TV Trwam.

Duda said removing deformed and seriously ill foetuses was “eugenic abortion”, adding that “decidedly tougher legal solutions” needed to be introduced.

A group of pro-life activists in September launched a “Stop Abortions” petition to toughen anti-abortion laws so that it would be forbidden to terminate pregnancies when the foetus is deformed.

Continued at source: http://thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/333989,President-says-abortion-laws-are-abused-in-Poland

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Abortion ban in El Salvador has women fearful of miscarriage

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Abortion ban in El Salvador has women fearful of miscarriage

Published October 14, 2017

In El Salvador, the abortion law is so strict just having a miscarriage can land a woman in jail.

The Central American country has some of the toughest anti-abortion laws in the world. Since 1998 any pregnant woman who loses her unborn child can be accused of homicide.

Abortion is banned under any circumstance in the country and women are petrified of having a problematic pregnancy.

Continued at source: https://america.cgtn.com/2017/10/14/abortion-ban-in-el-salvador-has-women-fearful-of-miscarriage

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USA: Just After Las Vegas, Republicans Are Voting to Restrict … Abortion

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Just After Las Vegas, Republicans Are Voting to Restrict ... Abortion

By Emily Crockett
Oct 3, 2017

On Tuesday, just after the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, House Republicans aren't spending the day debating gun legislation to try to save American lives. They aren't scrambling for better solutions to Puerto Rico's ongoing humanitarian crisis, either.

Instead, these "pro-life" lawmakers are voting to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy nationwide. The vote on the so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act of 2017 was scheduled by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy early last week, but the attack in Las Vegas that killed 59 people and wounded more than 500 did nothing to change his plan. (The House is expected to delay a vote on a gun silencer bill that had been slated for this week.) The Trump White House even made a point of endorsing the abortion ban on Monday.

Continued at source: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/day-after-las-vegas-gop-is-voting-to-restrict-abortion-w506879

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