This webpage uses Javascript to display some content.

Please enable Javascript in your browser and reload this page.

Home | Fiction | Nonfiction | Novels | | Innisfree Poetry | Enskyment Journal | International| FACEBOOK | Poetry Scams | Stars & Squadrons | Newsletter

Literature Discussion -


The Unsafe Abortion in Brazil -
A Health Public Question and a Reproductive Right

By Fernanda Pattaro Amaral (Brazil)


Click here to send comments

Click here if you'd like to exchange critiques


The Unsafe Abortion in Brazil: a Health Public Question on a Reproductive Right - reporting to the romantic love, the maternity, the Catholic Church and the democratization. How it all contributes to the discussion of abortion, nowadays.  


The Unsafe Abortion in Brazil: a Health Public Question and a Reproductive Right.


O Aborto Inseguro no Brasil: uma Questão de Saúde Pública em um Direito Reprodutivo - remetendo-se ao amor romântico, a maternidade, a Igreja Católica e a democratização. Como isso contribui para a discussão sobre o aborto hoje em dia.





This article exposes some points of reflexion about the right to abortion as part of a human’s rights question. Therefore, it is important a deep understanding about the ways that this question have been thought in Brazil, where there are restricted laws and a high maternal mortality rate decurrent of unsafe abortions. The discussion that is intended focuses on these consequences of unsafe abortion. Furthermore, is present in this discussion the idea of sanctification of women as mothers in Brazil, and how this social construction influences the debate about (un)safe abortion.

KEY WORDS: Unsafe Abortion; Reproductive Rights; Maternity; Health Public.




In Brazil, the abortion is criminalized; meantime, it is not punished when it is practiced in order to save the pregnant woman’s life , and when the pregnancy was occasioned by rape. However, this criminalization does not obstruct the practice and the abortion continues as a big preoccupation of public health, even though the consequences of clandestine abortions kill several Brazilian women every year. The Minister of the Health, José Gomes Temporão, and the President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, had publicly affirmed that the abortion is a serious problem of public health . However the unsafe abortion results in thousands of deaths every year, the right to abortion is restricted to the two cases already mentioned.

The date researched by the Ministry of Health in 2001 indicates that was 9,4 women’s death caused by abortion between 100 thousand nativities. Is estimated that 159 women have an abortion each 60 minutes over the country. Per year, there are approximately 1,4 millions of pregnancies interrupted. Every day, more than 140 teenagers make an unsafe abortion, and around 70% of these women are afro-descendant and poor.

The reason of this contradiction seems to be supported by the influence of politic lobbies promoted for some religious groups that raises difficulties to the establishment of a secular republic without any religion’s influence in political sphere. It’s evident that these groups are against the abortion as a women’s right.

At last, we have discourses that intend keeping abortion as an illicit action and discourses that accept this practice as a women’s choice, integrated to Human Rights. The abortion as an option excludes maternity of the biologic sphere to put in the social sphere, with different meanings and values so far as susceptible of a valorization in a determinate society and peculiar historical context.


1 Reproductive Rights

The abortion have been considered by Reproductive Rights organizations around the world as a Human Rights problem, but keeping abortion as a criminal practice can be a violation of these. The concept of reproductive rights frequently used is that from the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, realized in Cairo, in 1994, by ONU. This event was very significant because this Conference changed the idea of familiar planning to the idea of reproductive health in the policies. In its Program, paragraph 7.3, was wrote that:


[…] reproductive rights embrace certain human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other consensus documents. These rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. It also includes their right to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence, as expressed in human rights documents. In the exercise of this right, they should take into account the needs of their living and future children and their responsibilities towards the community. The promotion of the responsible exercise of these rights for all people should be the fundamental basis for government- and community-supported policies and programmes in the area of reproductive health, including family planning (United Nations 1995).


In Brazil, the recognition of the idea of reproductive rights was brought to discussions by (re)democratization movements that occurred after a long period of dictatorship.  Leila Barsted (2003) shows the importance that the feminists movements had in this period, bringing back this discussion to civil society. She affirms that the actuation of them in the Legislative for public politics attempted to the women’s health, to the right to decision of hers, and against the violence that recovered them, was a symbol of the Brazilian feminists in the 80’s.  After all, the reproductive rights have been the mark of these movements in this country as the right to secure abortion, which means the abortion realized in appropriated hygiene conditions and not clandestinely, as the way that occurs in Brazil and in other countries of Latin America. The abortion is considered by experts a serious problem in public health, and affect millions of women every year around the world, in view of the consequences of this lawless, these women are troubled for several problems such as psychological and physical ones, which can lead to death. Besides it all, the abortion as a problem of public health was evidenced in the IV Mundial Conference About Woman (Beijing/China, 1995) as we can see in the Platform of Action, in the paragraph 97, that says that the abortion, when made in dangerous circumstances, put women’s life in risk and it means a deep and serious social problem, due to the most rates of troubles relationed to the insecure abortion happens specially with poor and young women.


2 The unsafe abortion in Brazil: the procedures and the avoidable deaths

According to the research realized by World Health Organization (2007), the procedures utilized to force abortions unsafely are separated in four segments: the first one is about oral medicine or injectable drugs; the second one concerns to vaginal applications, as chemical preparations; the third one is relationed to the introduction of strange objects into the body, specifically inside the uterus like: needles, plants, catheter insertion made by some professionals not qualified, or even by someone without any qualification, etc. And the fourth one is about some abdominal trauma, as kicks, wounds, physical efforts, tumbles and others. According to the researchers Barbosa and Arilha (1993), the medicine knows as Cytotec has the preference of women (of all social classes) that chose for the unsafe abortion, whereas when this option is compared to other procedures, for example, a clandestine surgery, the first one is more economically accessible than this one. In the testimonies obtained by Elisabete Pinto (2002), the average price of each pill was at about R$ 60,00 (equivalent to US$ 25 dollars). To an effective abortion using this medicine, is necessary to take 4 pills: two by oral administration and two by intra-vaginal administration.

Elisabete Pinto (2002) still brings a testimony that illustrates the utilization of the two most common ways of realizing the forced abortion: Cytotec and the catheter. The interviewed realized the two procedures during her life, first with Cytotec, and later with a woman self-appointed midwife, that made use of a catheter:


I got the Cytotec in home; the child was born at my work place. It was a boy. This was the first. I went to the Hospital, but the baby was born when I was at work, with the medicine that I had taken… (my) second miscarriage was five years ago. I went to the midwife Miss S. She used the catheter. I took anesthesia because I was seven months pregnant. I felt [...] pain; it was alike parturition. I had the baby, and later I went to the Hospital.  But this child had a funeral process, you know […] after she gave me the medicine, I started felling pains, contractions, […] she only puts the catheter and so, you go away. After 24 hours, you take off the catheter and after a little time the child comes off […] The catheter is cheaper than Cytotec, but you suffer much more […] The second [child] was born dead, because the catheter hurts them. Because he was kept without water inside the placenta, he died. I felt it. When it happened, a lot of water threw away, it happened during the day. All the water threw away. So I caught a gas cylinder, I washed a lot of clothes, and he [the baby] went out.



It is important to see here, among the different methods of forced abortion, a social question inserted in the context. While women that are in better economic situation can realize their abortions in clinics with suitable hygienic conditions, or travel to foreign countries where the abortion is legalized, with security and hygienic conditions, on the other hand, those ones that doesn’t hold in usufruct that advantages of higher social classes are obliged to make use of some medicines, moisture of herbs, or use cutting instruments, to realize their unsafe miscarriages. The Minister of Health of Brazil, in its written report “Pacto Nacional pela Redução da Mortalidade Materna e Neonatal” (2004), signed that: “the high rates founded [in maternal mortality] are an indication of violation of the Human Rights of Women and Children and a serious public health problem” (p.2). This document still shows that the Brazilian Government will give priority to the public politics focused in women’s health, and will confirm the practice of abortion as the main cause of maternal mortality, informing that in the “System of Public Health (SUS) are aided, annually, over 250,000 women with complications of unsafe abortion”.

According to the research of World Health Organization – “Unsafe Abortion” (2007), the miscarriage, when realized by qualified professionals and in suitable hygiene conditions and with adequate techniques, do not represent any risks to the patient. This research informs that in USA, the maternal mortality relating to the induced abortion is 0, 6 between 100.000 cases. The risks of the unsafe abortion are caused by: the medicine consumed, usually without the correct information; the others methods; the general women’s health and the stage of the pregnancy.


3. The Catholic Church

The Catholic Church (C.C) is an important actor inside debates about abortion in the Brazilian society. Identified with the conservators, its doctrine defends the abortion as a sin, against the power of “God” and His “creation”. Catholicism turned the conception of embryo imbued with human life and created the “Statute of Unborn”. Unborn, according to Church, is all individuals that potentially can bear in the future, i.e., a creature during all gestation’s steps. This Statute intends to protect life since its conception until death. The formulation of this “Life Right of Embryo” had its political visibility in the 70’s – when several industrialized countries reviewed their restrictive laws of abortion; in spite of feminists movements, they decided to formalize it – just to restrict this legal access. Sônia Correa e Maria Betânia Ávila (2003) affirms that the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 did not mention that sentence, but only was said that the “right to life is a prerogative of a human being, that born free and in equality, and not of ones that did not bear”.

The Catholic Church, for a moment, was associated to Brazilian feminism and its demands, in a context of dictatorial governments, fighting for amnesty in the same side of activists of human rights. In a second moment, the feminism amplified its demands, asking for the autonomy of women body, and so, the right to abortion. By this time, the Catholic Church broke the alliance with the feminists. The Church affirms that fetus is a human life and no woman has some right over it, once “God” conceded a life, and only “The Lord” can take it off. However, abortion, in Church’s terms, also embody the practice of sex without the reproduction finality, out of the marriage and as affront to the family institution. These are values that C. C. defends not only for its members, but for all Brazilian society.


4. The Feminist Movement

The feminist movement has represented the women’s rights inside civil society. The feminism was developed in a kind of protest against social exclusion of women of political life, and objectives the elimination of gender differences in politics (Scott, 2005). However, is like a concept that gave basis to a theory that is subjected to interpretations and reinterpretations by historical context which they develop themselves. And so, it is the place or arena (Schimidt, 2004) where the voices of those ones that claims for their spaces are listened, where discourses are pronounced, analyzed and in or out of action.

The feminist movement emerged in Brazil together with conflicts in the dictatorial period. This time had beginning in 1964, leaving a legacy of long permanency of military tutelage, the dead ones and the disappeared political prisoners, in addition to a world economic crisis. Meantime, the feminist movement was born precisely in the 70’s, fighting for the democratic freedom and political amnesty.

The abortion discussion and its criminalization appeared in the I Congress of Paulista Woman, in 1979. The abortion theme was recognized as a woman’s right, because this question was not being in favor or against the practice, but to legalize what “3 million of women” already had done (Moraes, 1990). In the 80’s, the abortion theme was consolidated since was introduced in Rio de Janeiro and in São Paulo the pro-liberalization abortion movement, consolidating a larger social movement than that one dated of 70’s.

Discussing abortion as a gender question and social justice in a country full of religious values, the feminists realized that the best way to get the “right to decide” was fixing abortion again as a public health problem. In 2002, the theme was defended by feminist platform, putting together the two visions about it: the recognizing of the decriminalization and legalization of abortion as a citizenship right, and as a public health matter. In 2004, the I National Conference of Politics to Women, realized in Brasília, approved the legalization of abortion and the guarantee of State that would not be involved by religious decisions; the humanization of assistance to the previous cases of Constitution; and the end of women’s decriminalization as the professionals that realize abortive procedures.


5. The New Democratization Process in the 80’s and the Citizenship

Talking about the unsafe abortion in Brazil, it is necessary to understand the historical facts that this country have passed, and how it could allow new discussions about the human rights. Evaldo Vieira, in “Brasil: do golpe de 64 à redemocratização” , showed that Brazil, since 1964 until 1988 “got away under force, of a liberal political system, entered a hard and very long dictatorial time to, after all, build the democracy” (Vieira, 2002).

During the Costa e Silva’s government, specifically in 1968 , the AI-5 was decreed, what gave to the president despotic powers, like: permission to close the Congress, the states assemblies and the municipals rooms, to cease parliamentary mandates; suspend for 10 years the political rights of everyone; to dismiss, to remove, to pension off federal, state and municipal employers; permission to dismiss judges; to suspend the Judiciary guarantees; and many others (Vieira, 2002).

In 1969, the Military Group (that succeeded Costa e Silva, retired due to an illness) divulged the National Security Law, which removed the public freedom against the individual rights. General João Batista Figueiredo went to power in 1979, with promises of democracy over the country and a free society. In that year, he signed the Politic Amnesty, permitting the exiled ones could back to the country, but it wasn’t a solution to the political disappeared ones.

According to Vieira (2002), there was a campaign about the restoration of democracy in 1895, fighting for the right of voting. José Sarney, the new president, annunciated the constitutional amendment that convoked the National Assembly to return to Congress. Joined to this, that Assembly reunited in 1987 and the Constitution of 1988 was the symbols of the new democratization of Brazil.

About the reproductive rights, in the Brazilian Constitution of 1988, the idea of protecting the human life since the conception was not included in the Magna Carta. This was fundamental to the continuity of discussions about reproductive rights along the years after the Constitution of 1988 (Hardy e Rebello, 1996). We noted that the process of democratic transition was vital to the discussion of the women’s rights in Brazil.

The researcher Danielle Ardaillon (1997) questioned the citizenship notion, when State is treating of human beings, citizens without a gender classification, all of them were considered people without rights; they weren’t citizens males and citizens females. Therefore, Ardaillon question is how State will recognize the right to citizenship to women if this same State did not identify them.

The biggest difficulty to answer to this question is due to the human reproduction involves the woman, the man and the society. She questioned if it’s, in fact, an individual right of each woman, if she is decisive in  reproduction of society. This question is very complicated considering that it reminds us that exists values, that we can not give significance to the life and when it starts; if the fetus is considered a human life, or a life in potential, and other questions.

Elizabeth Jelin (1994) exposes an important reflection to think about abortion as a citizenship right. She started her article questioning the existence of two histories in the Human Rights: one that refers to the mobilization of women and the feminism for recognize the rights, and the other one refers to the development, through the international non governmental networks, of the demands for human rights. 

According to the authoress,  this question’s problematic “is the women before the human rights or the human rights of women; the women in [the movement of] the human rights or the women and the human rights?” (Jelin,1994). Besides, the authoress asks if the human rights guarantee the ideal of universal equality, or the cultural relativism.  How to defend the universalism to the different? How to conciliate the cultural relativism with the universality of rights? Is this universality based on a discriminatory culture? Answering  those questions is not the proposal of this article, but they are important points when we think about the women’s rights, and about the right to abortion and its relation to the citizenship.

Jelin explains that human rights refers to women and not to the woman , emphasizing that the own concept of woman has so many identifications and no consensus.  Judith Butler (1998) affirmed that the term “women” “means a field of differences that can not be designated” and must not be interpreted in a totally way or just descriptively, because the own term became a place of constant re-significations every time (Butler, 1998). By this way, is natural the discussion about universalizing the human rights that do not contemplates all the differences inside them, for example, the categories of woman, man, gender, etc.

Jelin (1994) defends that, to resolve this contraposition, it’s needed another way that can put together the globalization of human rights and the maintenance of plurality that exists inside diversity, to reduces the inequality (that are not differences) that emerges from society and  the institutions. Therefore, it’s absolutely necessary to think about the right to abortion as a women’s right to citizenship, is significant even though there are not concrete answers to philosophical questions about the beginning of life and about the individualization of the fetus, but the problem here is that women still are not  owners of their bodies, of themselves. So, how can they be citizens if they are not owner of their bodies? How can they considerer themselves as citizens in a context that obligates them to have an abortion because their social reality forces them to do it? And they have to do this for illegal ways, they risk being arrested and condemned for laws. When one of these women aborts illegally, she has her citizenship denied again, using dangerous methods of abortion that can put in risk her health or even her life.  It is necessary discuss the abortion as a citizenship right in Brazil, putting together the universal and the diversity ways that women are in.



6. The Romantic Love and the Maternity: cultural structures

The researcher Maria Lúcia Rocha Coutinho (1994) studied the woman in the society and showed that the romantic love was the main agent to valorization of the maternity in the XVIII century, naturalizing, so, a phenomenon purely social, “inherent to the cultural order that men and women established about the nature”. The members of this familiar society are united by specific rules, rights and self- obligations, affective unions built by the legislation and rules of Catholic Church. 

The new marriage based in the romantic love starts a new familiar formation, in which emerges the maternal love. By this way, “the child get a new value and importance, being now an indispensable element of quotidian life, once that is the product by excellence of this new unity, reason of its subsistence”. Thus, the woman passes to live now for the love: to her partner, to her children and to her own house, always impeccable, the place that has become the female dominium . But in this story about maternity, sometimes this permanence at the women’s home was interrupted, like during the World Wars, when they were encouraged to take part of industrial life. With the end of the Second War, women were forced to get back home and live her supremacy, while her husband could back to his post of work world. The women’s destiny was the maternity, as affirmation of their biological nature, their maternal instinct. The female identity at this time is the tripod: husband, children and home.

The 60’s were important to put in check this “woman nature”. A part of women felt confused with this traditional model and the model that started to get forms: the possibility of a professional realization. However, the reproduction of the sacred maternity, the importance of being a good housewife continues in the same time. In the 70’s, the feminism got wide visibility in society. It was a time of sexual revolution and the pills to prevent pregnancy. It was a new opportunity to put in check the maternity as a voluntary choice. On that occasion, women were searching for identities, new desires, achievements on their careers and their public space. But this ideal was not totally free, as much as it put together the professional and the maternal ways. And this is the conflictuous ideal of nowadays. The actual Brazilian society valorizes more the woman that want to have children, being a mother, than that one that just want to be a successful professional, and does not plain to having children.

The discussion of a safe abortion in Brazil is deeply marked by this valorization of a woman as a mother.


The RECENT Discussion

The law that embraces the abortion’s questions in Brazil criminalizes it, but does not punish when the abortion is done to save the mother’s life or when the woman’s pregnancy is a result of rape.

The actual discussion is about the abortion of fetus that shows some kinds of anomalies (like anencephaly). In a research made in 2004 with professionals at FEBRASGO , the researcher Aníbal Faúndes (et al.) informed that 77% of the gynecologists and obstetrics said that abortion justified by anencephaly would not be punished. And 79,9% of wives or girlfriends of these professionals, confirmed that already realized an abortion due to an undesired pregnancy.

The Minister Marco Aurélio from Brazilian Supreme Court (STF), in July, 2004, authorized women to have an abortion when the fetus was diagnosed anencephalic. But the same STF had suspended this decision in October 2004. Just in 2008 that this discussion was recovered, and there are great possibilities that STF finally authorizes this kind of abortion again. In 2008 was realized three Publics Audiences to understand what anencephaly is and decides if  STF is in favor or against it. In the third day of these Audiences, the Minister of Health, José Gomes Temporão, said that he was favorable to this kind of abortion. He affirmed that denying this right to a woman means a kind of “political control” of the women’s body, and “if the men would be pregnant, this problem would be resolved earlier”.

About this, the researcher Débora Diniz produced three documentaries in 2007, all about anencephaly. Through these documentaries we can see the impact of this politic and how the religious debate affects women’s life. In the documentary “Quem são elas?” (2007) , Débora analyzes a question made by de STF in 2004, which a Minister asked to the presents: “But, who are those women?”. By this time, Debora gave voice and face to those women that were pregnant of anencephalic fetuses and decided to have an abortion, just like Camila’s testimony, for example:


... Before we discovered the anencephaly, our fear was to follow with a pregnancy for another four months. It’s needed to register a child, e to make certificate of death of this child, and to put into the earth this child some hours before it was born. […] the worst thing in my life was to look in the mirror and see that pregnancy even knowing that after some time I would have nothing alive inside me.


In another documentary , Débora mixed Severina’s testimony and the debate that STF has transmitted on TV Senado, in October 21st, 2004. The Minister of STF, Cezar Peluso, affirmed: “It does not convince me the circumstance that the fetus with anencephaly is dammed to death, but everyone is.  The suffering by itself is not a thing that degrades the human dignity”. The Minister Cláudio Fonteles said that: “I can not! I can not as a human being agree with that inside the womb,  just because there is a baby with anencephaly it means that there is no life there… My God.” But the Minister Carlos Ayres Britto argued: “Is there a right to be born for dying?” The lawyer Luis Roberto Barroso, said: “...the worst thing that could happen would be I get out of here today and say to these mothers that the Brazilian Supreme Court advised that we have nothing with their troubles”. To finalize it, the Minister Marco Aurélio Mello, said to the president of the Supreme Court: “President, we still have in this plenary a Christ [there is fixed on the wall of the plenary an iconic image of Christ in the cross], but the separation of State and Religion was a long time ago”. We can see that some ministers put in the same terms religion and politics in a dangerous game that involves all Brazilian society. The Catholic Church has influence inside the Supreme Court, a place that might be ceptic.


Final Notes

Hardy and Rebello (1996) showed that the debates involving the abortion, and the women’s movement saw its decriminalization and its legalization too, with the purpose of every woman have access to this right in the health system. But, to conquer this, the movements had to change their strategies and search for the reproductive rights in a gradual way, including the partial decriminalization and to keep the rights that were conquered before. Since the 90’s can be observed the weakness of this theme inside the movements, because other themes started having eminence, just like: the critical to the indiscriminate female sterilization and the news reproductive technologies.

The discussion over abortion in Brazil passes by the religious discourses, suggesting the common sense. And every kind of discourse is a kind of power, so among the discourse, abortion is condemned or accepted by society, being an important point to build the social thought. By this ways, the Catholic Church was fundamental to put in the society its discourse about the abortion as a crime, as a sin.  It means that society stigmatizes the miscarriage and the woman that had an unsafe abortion, according to the Church’s Philosophy. Bourdieu said that civil society produces and re-produces discourses that sound like truths, being owners of a fragment of power. Inside this Bourdieu’s thought , the abortion has become a discourse, besides to be considered as sin to the catholic followers and a crime against the moral and traditions, and also considered as a crime against the life, because the embryo is a “God’s creature” and the abortion is the maximum expression of  human cruelty, against a “inoffensive creature”. Besides it, the pregnancy occurs inside the woman’s body, always an assisted, medically and normatively body. When the abortion is criminalized, the sexuality of the woman is under vigilance and she continues to reproduces the order in vigour.

The abortion is an option that is against the hegemonic social rules: the dominant ideal of the gender relations emphasizes the value of the maternity considered as a natural woman’s vocation. Otherwise, our culture is deeply influenced by the Catholic Church’s Philosophy that defends the notion of life since the conception. After that, for many people, to have an unsafe abortion is considered a double transgression. But, according to Rocha-Coutinho (1994): “Having a baby is a natural fact, but being a mother is a work that molds woman, and so, is an ideological construction”.

When a woman accepts this role of being a mother, she is adequate to the normality of feminine behavior, which is expected for the society. But, when she denies this, her behavior means immorality, abnormality. Therefore, a woman that searches for a miscarriage is discriminated for society. But in the discourse of abortion, there are social differences between the woman that suffered an abortion and the woman that search for an abortion. The first one is featured in the discourses as a fragile woman, the second one as selfish and murderer.

In spite of the difficulties, the abortion continues being present inside the feminist movement, but only considered as a public health problem that is just a little piece in this great puzzle that is citizenship. The citizenship of Brazilian woman is built in a great tie and it seems like a tear going down in the middle of an endless ocean that is society.



Juliane Scridelli for helping me with the translation.


ANIS. 2008. Brasileira que aborta é católica, casada, trabalha e tem filho. In: Acessado em março de 2009.


Ardaillon, Danielle. 1997. O lugar do íntimo na cidadania de corpo inteiro, Estudos Feministas, segundo semestre, ano 5.


Barbosa, Regina Maria e Arilha, Margareth. 1993. A experiência brasileira com o Cytotec, Estudos Feministas, 2º sem. Ano 1.


Barsted, Leila Linhares. 1994. Em busca do tempo perdido: mulher e políticas públicas no Brasil 1983-1993, Estudos Feministas, segundo semestre, ano 2.


______________________. 2003. O campo político-legislativo dos Direitos sexuais e reprodutivos no Brasil, In: Sexo & Vida: panorama da saúde reprodutiva no Brasil, edited by Berquó, 79-94. Campinas, SP: Editora da Unicamp/NEPO.


Bourdieu, Pierre. 2002. O poder simbólico. 5ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Bertrand Brasil.


Buttler, Judith. 1998. Fundamentos Contingentes: o feminismo e a questão do pós-modernismo,Cadernos Pagu, Campinas, n.11.


Carneiro, Luiz Orlando. “STF proíbe aborto de feto sem cérebro.” JB On-line, 21 de out.2008. In: Acessado em dezembro de 2008.


Correa, Sonia, e ÁVILA, Maria Betânia. 2003. Direitos sexuais e reprodutivos: pauta global e percursos brasileiros, In: Sexo & Vida: panorama da saúde reprodutiva no Brasil, Berquó, 17-73. Campinas, SP: Editora da Unicamp/NEPO.


COSTA, Ana Alice Alcântara. 2005.O movimento feminista no Brasil: Dinâmicas de uma intervenção política, Gênero, 1. sem., 2. Niterói, R.J.


FAÚNDES, Aníbal, et al.2004. Conhecimento, opinião e conduta de ginecologistas e obstetras brasileiros sobre o aborto induzido, Revista Brasileira de Ginecologia e Obstetrícia (RBGO), v.26, nº2.


Foucault, Michel. 2002. Os Anormais: curso no Collège de France (1974-1975). São Paulo: Martins Fontes.


GOFFMAN, Erving.  1998. Estigma: notas sobre a manipulação da identidade deteriorada. Rio de Janeiro: LTC.


Hardy, Ellen e Rebello, Ivanise.  1996. The discussion on induced abortion in the Brazilian Congress: the role of the women’s movement, Saúde Pública, Rio de Janeiro, v.12, n.2.


Jelin, Elizabeth. 1994. Mulheres e direitos humanos, Estudos Feministas, 1 semestre, 2.


KOERNER, Andrei. 2002. Ordem política e sujeito de direito no debate sobre direitos humanos. Lua Nova, 57.


Ministério da Saúde. 2004.  Secretaria de Atenção à Saúde. Departamento de Ações Programáticas Estratégicas. Pacto Nacional Pela Redução da Mortalidade Materna e Neonatal. Brasília.


Moraes, Maria Lygia Quartim de. 1990. A experiência feminista nos anos 70. Textos. Faculdade de Ciências e Letras, Departamento de Sociologia. UNESP – Araraquara, SP.


OLIVEIRA, Andréa Cristina de Jesus. 2005.Breve história sobre o desenvolvimento do lobbying no Brasil, Rev. de Informação Legislativa. Brasília, out./dez., 168.


Onu. Informe de la Conferencia Internacional Sobre la Población y el Desarrollo. Cairo, 1994. Acessado em março de 2009. 


Onu. 1996. IV Conferência Mundial Sobre a Mulher. Beijing, China, 1995. Rio de Janeiro: Fiocruz.


Pinto, Elisabete Aparecida. 2002. Ventres Livres: O aborto numa perspectiva étnica e de gênero. São Paulo: Terceira Margem.


Rocha-Coutinho, Maria Lúcia. 1994. Tecendo por trás dos panos: a mulher brasileira nas relações familiares. Rio de Janeiro: Rocco.


Schimdt, Simone Pereira. 2004.Como e por que somos feministas, Estudos Feministas, Florianópolis, setembro-dezembro, 12.


Scott, Joan. 2005. O enigma da igualdade, Estudos Feministas, Florianópolis, janeiro-abril, 13.


Vieira, Evaldo. 2002. Brasil: do golpe de 64 à redemocratização. In Viagem Incompleta – A grande transação: a experiência brasileira (1500-2000), editado por Mota. 1ª edição. São Paulo: Senac.


World Health Organization. 2007. Unsafe abortion: global and regional estimates of incidence of unsafe abortion and associated mortality in 2003. 5th ed.













The actual Penal Code dates from 1940. It is in the Law Decree nº 2848, of 1940 December 7th  (articles 124 to 127), do not punish abortion in two conditions: the therapeutic abortion – to save the pregnant woman’s life, and the sentimental abortion – when the pregnancy is caused by rape.

Marilena Corrêa signed that the Unique System of Health (SUS – Sistema Único de Saúde, a public institution), registered the occurrence of 1,5 million of abortions in Brazil per year. This data was  researched in medical studies that notice that each 100 women that practices abortion in unsafe conditions, 20 women, at least, look for SUS showing complications of post abortion; for example infections and hemorrhages (Anis, 2008). 

According to Oliveira (2006), “Moreover, the groups make use of lobbying to help the legislator or public authorities about decisions or proposals that can work as a persuasion mechanism. The lobbying may be understood as objective information available, at the time ready for use, to get the best decision”.

Cytotec arrived in Brazil in 1986. This is the commercial name to misoprostol, developed by Searle and available in Brazil for treatment of gastric ulcers. It triggers a stimulant action beyond the uterus musculature causing strong contractions. Thus, it was utilized in the induction of parturition and in the abortion (Barbosa e  Arilha  1993).

National Pact of Reduction of Maternal Mortality and Neonatal.

Paulista means the people that were born in the State of São Paulo, Brazil.

Brazil, from 64’ coup to democratization.

  The AI-5 (Institutional Act) was conceived for parliamentary immunity question. A deputy of MDB that disagreed with this economic political act, invited the population to be absent of  September 7th parade as a protest. He asked  to women  to do not fall in love with those “officials implicated in governmental violence”. The ministers wanted the judgment of that deputy, but this one had parliamentary immunity. In the next day, Costa e Silva decreed the AI-5 (Vieira, 2002).

Underlined by the authoress.

“The maternal love is the origin and the fundamental point of the creation of a space sentimentalized of the home, where family came to refugee themselves. The modern family, so, is centralized around the mother, that acquires an importance that never had. Her house, closed to the influences of the outside world, is the new “kingdom” of the woman, and the maternity is turned her greatest desire” (Rocha-Coutinho, 1994).

 Brazilian Federation of Gynecologists and Obstetrics

  See to: “Hábeas Corpus (2007)”: The documentary is about Tatielle’s suffering, a young woman from Morrinhos, a small rural town in Goiás . She was five months pregnant of a fetus that wouldn’t survive after parturition, when a judge authorized her to perform an abortion (abortions are generally illegal in Brazil). However, a habeas corpus presented by a priest who didn’t know Tatielle, stopped the medical procedure that was going to interrupt the pregnancy. Tatielle was already feeling birth contractions when she was released from the hospital. Back to her city, Tatielle agonized for five days feeling the pains of a parturition that was prohibited by Religion, as well as by the Justice system  (

Four Women (Quem são elas?) July, 2004. The Brazilian Supreme Court temporarily authorized pregnant women carrying anencephalic fetuses to interrupt their pregnancies. By 4 months, a lot of women were helped with this decision. This documentary is about 5 women that did it. (


See to: Severina’s Story, 2007.  ( Uma história Severina) Severina had her destiny changed by a Supreme Court decision. Four months pregnant of an anencephalic fetus, she was in the hospital at the moment that the Supreme Court cancelled the authorization to interrupt the pregnancy. It was October 20th , 2004. Severina, a farmer from the small city of Chã Grande – Brazil, married with Rosivaldo and mother of Walmir, spent three months walking from courts to hospitals and back to courts, trying to find someone who could help her to stop all that suffering. The documentary put her tragic story on the screen, telling about the long “day after” that the judges of the Supreme Court never witnessed (


When the strange is in front of us, it can appear evidences that he/she has a characteristic that makes him/her different of others that meet themselves in a category which could be - included, being, even, of different and undesirable specie – in an extreme case, a very bad person, dangerous or weak ones. So, we do not considerer he/she as a common and total creature, we reduces he/she to a spoiled and decreased person. This characteristic is a stigma. It is considered too as a defect, a weakness, a disadvantage –being a discrepancy between the virtual social identity and the real social identity (Goffman,1988, p.6).

“We live in a society that produces and makes circulate discourses that work like truths, and so, have specific powers inside it. The production of truth discourses is one of the fundamental Occident’s problems” (Bourdieu,2002).