'Tell in detail' what happened: Brazil toughens rape abortion regulations

Brazil on Friday laid down new requirements for access to abortion for rape victims, including requiring medical staff to offer the woman to see the embryo or fetus by ultrasound.

The woman wishing to have an abortion will also have to “tell in detail” what happened, and will be warned that she risks legal action if she cannot prove her point. Finally, the rape will necessarily be reported to the police with the filing of a complaint, whether the woman wants it or not.

Powerful conservatism

Brazil, led by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, and where conservative Catholic and Evangelical churches are particularly powerful, only allows abortion in cases of rape, danger to the woman's life or serious congenital problems of the fetus. Even these exceptions are poorly accepted by the religious right.

These new standards were issued by the Ministry of Health following protests in early August around the case of a 10-year-old girl claiming to have been raped by her uncle, and to whom the authorities of her native state, Espirito Santo, refused the abortion.

She eventually flew to the northeastern city of Recife, where she was able to have an abortion, not without having to go through a violent far-right protest outside the hospital. The identity of the girl and the hospital were passed on to protesters by far-right activist Sara Winter, a staunch supporter of Bolsonaro who is linked to Women's Minister Damares Alves, an evangelical pastor.

The UN challenged

The new restrictions were immediately denounced by supporters of the right to abortion. “I have just presented a bill to block this decree, which is an obstacle for legal abortion and represents psychological violence against women,” left MP Jandira Feghali tweeted.

Sixteen MPs have also written to UN human rights official Michelle Bachelet, asking her to intervene in the name of protecting women’s rights.

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