Bringing Abortion into the Brazilian Public Debate: Legal Strategies for Anencephalic Pregnancy

 

Luís Roberto Barroso, “Bringing Abortion into the Brazilian Public Debate: Legal Strategies for Anencephalic Pregnancy,” Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman, and Bernard M. Dickens (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014) pp 258-278, 434n-435n.  Ahora disponible en español.

In this twelfth chapter of Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies (U Penn Press, 2014), Luís Roberto Barroso explains the legal strategies and shifts in social perception that converged in the Brazilian Supreme Court case ADPF 54, initiated in 2004 and decided in 2012.  In that case, Barroso successfully argued that the termination of an anencephalic pregnancy, a fetal condition of brain tissue deficiency incompatible with survival outside the womb, does not constitute abortion.  This chapter outlines the legal strategies set forth in Brazil to assert women’s right to terminate pregnancies of anencephalic fetuses as a departure point to break through the longstanding taboos around abortion and advance the more difficult debate over the decriminalization of abortion. He explains how the extreme case of the anencephalic fetus provided a chance to bypass the most crucial moral claim against abortion—the fetus’s potentiality for life.  He also compares and contrasts the decision of this Brazilian court with those of human rights treaty bodies, and those of other Latin American countries where the opposition to abortion is also powerful. The chapter concludes with a set of arguments, successful in the Brazilian Supreme Court, that are broadly applicable to other countries.

Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies was published in August 2014 by the University of Pennsylvania Press’s Studies in Human Rights Series.   Table of Contents and other information online.   A Spanish edition was published in August, 2016.  Ahora disponible en español.

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