How an anti-abortion group in Brazil spreads disinformation with public cash

A São Paulo anti-abortion centre has forged lucrative ties to leading far-right political figure

Raphaela Ribeiro
2 June 2023

“PREGNANT?” scream the posters on São Paulo’s metro system, used by five million commuters every day. “Are you confused or completely alone…What are your options?” The urgent questions are superimposed on the silhouette of a woman’s face. Below is the logo of an organisation known as Cervi (Centre for Life Restructuring), followed by two phone numbers and the invitation “Call Us”.

Cervi has operated across Brazil for two decades and is linked to the Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC), a US network. Since the 1970s, the PRC has helped create so-called ‘crisis pregnancy centres’ across the US and in several other countries. The crisis pregnancy centres, many of which are linked to large evangelical Christian networks such as Heartbeat International and CareNet, pose as abortion service providers. However, their real mission is to dissuade women and pregnant people from having an abortion using tactics such as disinformation and emotional pressure, as a 2020 openDemocracy investigation revealed.


Inside Brazil’s Abortion Pill Black Market

In a country where one woman dies every two days from a botched abortion, the internet is sometimes the only option.

By Leonardo Coelho, a Brazilian journalist based in Rio de Janeiro.
JULY 8, 2022

Under a run-of-the-mill news clip posted on YouTube in 2012 covering Brazil’s online black market of abortion pills, something strange has happened in the comments section. Even though the video is a decade old, the comments—now totaling more than 68,000—continue to pile up every day.

Nearly all the new comments appear to be from female users with phone numbers in their usernames. Although it’s not entirely clear who these users are, they seem to be promoting mysterious individuals with names like Alice and Maísa who can provide “Cyto.”


Brazil – A 10-year-old rape victim sought an abortion. A judge urged: Stay pregnant.

By Marina Lopes
July 2, 2022

The 10-year-old rape victim was pregnant, and asking a court to authorize an abortion.

She found herself sitting under a crucifix in the courtroom in southern Brazil, across from a judge and prosecutor who repeatedly urged her to continue the pregnancy.


Brazil: Raped girl, 11, gets abortion after initial refusal

Brazilian prosecutors say a raped 11-year-old girl got a lawful abortion after a judge blocked her for weeks from ending her pregnancy

By Débora Álvares and Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press
June 23, 2022

BRASILIA, Brazil -- Brazilian prosecutors said Thursday that a raped 11-year-old girl had received a legal abortion after a judge blocked her for weeks from ending her pregnancy.

Federal prosecutors in the state of Santa Catarina said in a statement that Polydoro Ernani de São Thiago hospital had taken "measures to interrupt the minor's pregnancy” after a formal request made on behalf of the girl's family.


Brazilian judge probed for blocking abortion for raped child

Brazil’s judicial watchdog agency says it's investigating a judge who stopped an 11-year-old rape victim from getting an abortion

By Débora Álvares and Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press
June 22, 2022

BRASILIA, Brazil -- Brazil's judicial watchdog agency says it is investigating a judge who stopped an 11-year-old rape victim from getting an abortion — a procedure that advocates insist is allowed in the South American nation for rape cases at any stage of a pregnancy.

Santa Catarina state Judge Joana Ribeiro Zimmer was filmed at a hearing May 9 asking the child whether she understood how pregnancies happen, referring to her rapist as “the father of the baby," asking her to “hold on a little more” to save it and even suggesting a name should be picked. The girl repeatedly said she did not want to give birth.


Brazil – Judge Bans 11-Year-Old Rape Victim From Having Abortion


A judge in Brazil has banned abortion for an 11-year-old girl who became pregnant after being raped, prompting widespread outrage.

The move, which came to light Monday, has put the judge, Joana Ribeiro Zimmer, under investigation by the country's Court of Justice.

Brazilian Judge Denies Abortion to 11-Year-Old Rape Victim, Previewing Post-Roe America

It's not just Brazil—across the US, lawmakers are already boasting about the bans they'll pass without rape exceptions, which are already mostly symbolic.

By Kylie Cheung
June 21,2022

A judge in Brazil denied an abortion to an 11-year-old who had been impregnated by rape, saying she didn’t want to enable a “homicide,” Newsweek reported on Monday. The young girl had reportedly been raped in her home earlier this year, and when she was taken to the hospital upon learning she was pregnant, a doctor at the University of Santa Catarina denied her an abortion because she was more than 22 weeks pregnant. The university hospital’s rules prohibit doctors from offering abortion care to someone past 20 weeks of pregnancy, without a court order.

Brazil notably criminalizes abortion and threatens abortion patients with one to three years in prison, and providers with one to four years. The country provides exceptions only for threats to the pregnant person’s life, when the fetus is deemed unviable, and, relevant to this case, if the pregnancy is the result of rape.


How will laws against abortion be enforced? Other countries offer chilling examples

In Argentina, midwives were prosecuted. In Brazil, clinics were raided. In Rwanda, hundreds of women went to jail

MAY 25, 2022

Within the next month it is very likely the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate the federal constitutional right to an abortion. When that happens, dormant trigger laws in many states will immediately go into effect and abortion will become a crime. Because abortion will be regulated at the state level, enforcement and penalties will vary greatly. Kentucky, South Dakota, North Dakota, Tennessee, South Carolina and Missouri are just some of the states that would make providing an abortion a felony, with penalties including jail time up to 20 years. Other states, too impatient to wait for the court decision, have already moved to increase penalties for either having or providing an abortion. Louisiana attempted to classify abortion as a homicide, although lawmakers there have since walked back the effort. Texas is uniquely punitive, criminalizing abortion after six weeks and incentivizing enforcement through the private sector by offering bounties of $10,000 cash to deputized ordinary citizens who can sue anyone involved in providing an abortion.


Underground Activists in Brazil Fight for Women’s Reproductive Rights

While abortion has long been aggressively criminalized in Brazil, in the past few years, anti-abortion zeal has reached a fever pitch. In response, abortion activist networks support and guide women through at-home procedures.

October 23, 2021
Alejandra Marks 

Last month, when Taís Oliveira* found out she was pregnant, she got in her car and cried. A single mother living in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, Taís had promised herself she would never raise a child alone again. The next day she began her search for an abortion. Under President Jair Bolsonaro’s radically anti-choice government, however, obtaining one through either legal or illegal means would be difficult. With scores of religious conservatives in Congress and at the helm of the public agencies, anti-abortion surveillance pervades.


Brazil – Legal and safe abortion is not a matter of religion, but of public health

October 1, 2021
by Jenni Smith

Policies to protect women in Brazil continue to be irresponsible, which has generated deaths, diverse violence and deepened inequalities in the country.

Last Tuesday (28), the Global Day for Safe Abortion took place. The date was celebrated by our Chilean neighbors with the approval by the Chamber of Deputies of the decriminalization of abortion until the 14th week, a project that goes to vote in the other legislative house.