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Issue #1587      March 27, 2013

Doctors issue plea over abortion laws

A group representing Brazilian doctors has pleaded with the government to change the country’s restrictive abortion law to allow abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The head of the Federal Council of Medicine said last week that the high number of botched illegal abortions and their sometimes tragic consequences was behind the recommendation, the first of its kind by the umbrella group representing around 400,000 doctors in Brazil.

Brazil, which is the world’s most populous Roman Catholic country, allows abortions only in cases of rape or risk to a mother’s life.

Despite those limits, government statistics suggest that around one million abortions are performed each year in Brazil, many of them under unhygienic and dangerous conditions. Botched abortions are the fifth highest cause of death for Brazilian women, representing around 200,000 women each year.

“The reality shows that women are getting abortions with great inequality” of circumstances, said council president Roberto Luis d’Avila.

“Rich women are getting them in safe conditions and the poor are completely unsafe with complications, losing their uteruses, losing parts of their intestines, dying.

“This inequality is unacceptable from the medical point of view. We defend the right of women to decide,” Dr d’Avila said.

He said that 80 percent of the group’s 27 regional branches voted to support decriminalising abortions through the first trimester.

The council will send its recommendations to the Senate to be examined by a committee that is looking into possible changes to Brazil’s penal code.

Morning Star   

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