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Brazil’s highest court rejects attempt to legalise disability abortion

Brazil’s highest court has rejected an attempt to legalise abortions on unborn babies who may have disabilities.

Currently, unborn babies in Brazil are protected from abortion in most circumstances. Previous supreme court ruling have declared that abortion is “non-punishable crime” in cases of rape, where there’s a proven risk to life of the mother and, as of 2012, babies diagnosed with anencephaly.

A legal challenge, brought by the National Association of Public Defenders, had sought to introduce terminations for expectant mothers diagnosed with the Zika virus through the court.

However, a majority of judges at Brazil’s Supreme Federal Tribunal voted last month to reject the challenge.

In 2016, the outbreak of the Zika virus raised concerns across the world because of a potential link to a condition in newborn babies.

At the time, Brazil and several other countries across South America reported an increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly, a condition which results in a baby’s head being smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age.

The National Association of Public Defenders (ANADEP) saw an opportunity to permit abortions for women who had been diagnosed with the Zika virus.

According to Catholic News Agency, pro-life campaigners in Brazil expressed concerns that the group were hoping to chip away at the country’s long-established legal protections for unborn children.

Additionally, Raphael Câmara, an obstetrician at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, noted that “recent studies show that foetuses of infected mothers are affected only 5 to 14% of the time, with the majority having mild problems, as shown by research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

He also revealed that “a study recently released by the CDC showed that 73% of Brazilian labs have a low accuracy rate for diagnosing the Zika virus, so the request is meaningless because we cannot talk about someone ‘infected with Zika’, but rather ‘maybe infected by Zika.’”

Ahead of the Supreme Court ruling, pro-life groups in Brazil had spoken out against efforts to expand abortion in the country.

A CitizenGo petition against the legal challenge gathered over 184,000 supporters.

A poll conducted by the Datafolha Institute, in 2016, found 58% of Brazilians would not allow abortion in cases where pregnant women are infected with the Zika virus.

Brazilians also rejected abortions in cases where the unborn baby is diagnosed with microcephaly, with 51 percent opposed and 39 percent in favour, according to the poll.

Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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Dear reader

In 2020, the UK Government imposed an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland, which included a provision that legalised abortion right up to birth for disabilties including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot.

A new Bill has been launched at the Northern Ireland assembly that will remove the current provision that allows abortion for ‘severe fetal impairment’.

It is under these grounds in the regulations that babies with disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot can currently be singled out for abortion in Northern Ireland because of their disability and can be aborted right up to birth.

Before the new abortion regime was imposed on Northern Ireland in 2020, disability-selective abortion for conditions such as Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot was not legal and there was a culture of welcoming and supporting people with these disabilities rather than eliminating them.

This is reflected directly in the latest figures (2016) from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, which show that while there were 52 children born with Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland, in the same year only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales. 

This contrasts with the situation in the rest of the United Kingdom where disability-selective abortion has been legal since 1967.

The latest available figures show that 90% of children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome before birth are aborted in England and Wales.

We are, therefore, asking people like you to take 30 seconds of your time and add your support to the campaign to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot in Northern Ireland.

If you live in Northern Ireland: 
Ask your MLAs to vote to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot:

If you live outside Northern Ireland: 
Show your support by signing this petition in support of the Bill:

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Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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