Breaking News, TV Debate, New Publications, Photo Competition, In Memoriam:
Brazil, South Africa, Chile, Ecuador, Spain, Austria, Canada ************************************** 5 December 2016
BRAZIL: BREAKING NEWS
A new ruling in the Supreme Court prior to the hearing on the Zika submission: notes from Debora Diniz and Sonia Correa
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.
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.
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?
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.
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...
A video of a lively TV debate with a panel and enthusiastic contributions from the audience on abortion, sex, sex education, contraception and women's lives and relationships. It was aired on 23 November 2016; the audience included abortion rights advocates, health professionals and many young women. The MEC is Qedani Mahlangu.
Debates y Reflexiones en torno a la Despenalización del Aborto en Chile
(Debates and reflections on the decriminalisation of abortion in Chile)
Editors: Lidia Casas Becerra, Delfina Lawson
by Lidia Casas Becerra, Lieta Vivaldi Macho, Juan José Álvarez Rubio
Contents - Prólogo, Agustín Squella - Debate sobre la legalización de la interrupción del embarazo en Chile: las condiciones mínimas necesarias de garantizar y preservar, Lidia Casas Becerra, Lieta Vivaldi Macho, Juan José Álvarez Rubio - Estándares sobre derechos sexuales y reproductivos en el derecho internacional de los derechos humanos, Ximena Gauché Marchetti - La pena inútil, Verónica Undurraga Valdés - La regulación del aborto: entre el control y la autonomía, Yanira Zúñiga Añazco - Objeción de conciencia y aborto, Rodolfo Figueroa García-Huidobro - La objeción de conciencia como derecho constitucional, Ángela Vivanco Martínez - Convicciones éticas institucionales y objeción de conciencia colectiva en el sector sanitario público y privado, Manuel A Nuñez Poblete - La legitimidad de las indicaciones del aborto y su necesario carácter de causas de justificación, Héctor Hernández Basualto - Aborto cuando el embarazo es resultado de una violación: un injusto penal eventualmente no exigible, María Magdalena Ossandón Widow - Interpretando derechos: la otra legalización del aborto en América Latina, Paola Bergallo
Deficiencies and inequity in sexual and reproductive health services and in regard to contraception in Spain
The Spanish Federation of Family Planning (FPFE) and Médicos del Mundo (Doctors of the World) have prepared this report jointly with the Alliance for Solidarity, National Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals (FELGTB), Forum for Feminist Politics, Shadow CEDAW Platform, and others, and presented it recently in Madrid.
They have also done a report on inequalities in women's access to contraception in the Spanish regions.
In June 2015, the National Ministry of Health published on its webpage a new "Protocol for Comprehensive Care of Persons Entitled to Legally Interrupt A Pregnancy”. This Protocol is a revision and update of the medical, bioethical and legal information provided by the 2010 Technical Guide. Even though the new Protocol establishes that "it is mandatory to implement this Protocol in the entire Argentinean territory and by all health facilities, both public and privately owned", reality shows that the document lacks the status of a Ministerial resolution just like its previous iterations of 2007 and 2010, and is not accompanied by a robust strategy to make it widely known and applied by federal authorities. It was not available at the Ministry webpage during the entire month of September and it was put back online only after strong mobilization by women's groups.
Along the same lines, almost four years after the CSJN verdict mentioned above, only 9 of the country's 24 jurisdictions have care protocols for non-punishable abortions that follow the guidelines set by the Court. Eight jurisdictions approved protocols with requirements that, rather than enabling, hinder women's access to safe abortion services to which they are entitled, and nine others have no protocol whatsoever as yet. That is, more than half of the country's jurisdictions still lack norms effectively guaranteeing that women can exercise a right granted to them since 1921...
Abortion is still a taboo: The topic is annoying, polarizing, stigmatizing, and even criminalizes women. Media coverage on abortion represents a one-sided visual language for a simple reason: Little to no useful stock photo material is available to depict the reality of this part of life.
Therefore, MUVS Vienna (Museum for Contraception and Abortion) is reaching out to obtain photographs that illustrate the critical situation of a woman (or couple) with an unwanted pregnancy in a realistic way. Photographers are invited to grapple with the difficult topic of unwanted pregnancy and abortion in a creative way. MUVS wants this competition to con- tribute in a useful and important way to the further destigmatisation of abortion.
Professor Michael Vlassoff from Canada died suddenly and unexpectedly last week; he was only 72. He joined the Guttmacher Institute as a Senior Research Scientist in 2008. He had previously served as a consultant to the Institute from 2003 to 2007. Before that he was the Chief of the Strategic Planning Branch, UN Population Fund from 2000-2002, prior to that from 1998-2000 the UNFPA Representative in India, and before that a Senior Technical Officer for UNFPA from 1992-1998. He studied and taught in Canada and later obtained a PhD in economics from the University of Pune.
Michael was a population economist with 25 years of experience in the United Nations in the areas of modeling population-development inter-relationships, economic aspects of fertility in developing countries, and the costing of sexual and reproductive health services. His work with Guttmacher concentrated on analysis of the cost of maternal mortality and abortion-related morbidity and mortality in countries with high rates of unsafe abortion. His work provided crucial evidence that treatment for complications of unsafe abortion costs health systems far more than safe abortions would.
He had a long list of research and publications to his name, covering many countries. His most recent reports included:
Can you help to raise legal fees for the mother of a teenager being prosecuted in Northern Ireland?
She is being prosecuted in the criminal court for obtaining medical abortion pills for her daughter.
The mother has got legal aid for the case itself, but her legal team want to force a judicial review of the decision to prosecute her – especially given that the daughter was under the age of consent when she became pregnant by her boyfriend. Unfortunately a judicial review is expensive.