The governments of Brazil and the United States are jointly sponsoring an international declaration that, on the pretext of establishing basic principles on the issue of women’s health, intends to reaffirm the rejection of abortion and the defense of the family, according to an article published by the website UOL.
On August 20, the U.S. ambassador to Brazil, Todd Chapman, confirmed at an event at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation that both countries are jointly sponsoring a document entitled “Geneva Consensus Declaration to secure meaningful health and development gains for women and defend the family”.
According to the UOL article, the text circulating between the diplomatic missions in Geneva stresses that “there is no international right to abortion, nor any international obligation for States to fund or facilitate abortion, consistent with the long-standing international consensus that each nation has the sovereign right to implement programs and activities that are consistent with their laws and policies”. The declaration, according to the article, considers that “women play an essential role in the family” and that signatory countries should make a commitment to “improve and secure women’s access to health and development”. But in the same paragraph, according to UOL, the text states that this access to health would occur “without including abortion”.
In response to the initiative announced in the ambassador’s speech and available in full on the website of the U.S. Embassy, Conectas Human Rights has sent an official letter to the Foreign Relations and National Defense Committee and the Human Rights and Participatory Legislation Committee of the Senate calling for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ernesto Araújo, to be summoned to provide clarifications on the initiative.
In the letter, the organization states that the Senate should monitor this Brazilian foreign policy initiative and strive for consistency between the legally guaranteed rights in Brazil on sexual and reproductive health and the initiative announced by the Brazilian and U.S. diplomats.
Change of course
Since the 1990s, the Brazilian State has been a signatory of global treaties that recommend the prevention of unsafe abortions, the review of punitive laws and full respect for the right of women to sexual and reproductive autonomy. These include the programs of action of the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994), the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995) and the Montevideo Consensus (ECLAC, 2013).
This is not the first time that Brazil has defended internationally the criminalization of abortion. In her first speech in the UN, in 2019, the Minister of Women, Family and Human Rights, Damares Alves, defended the “full exercise of the right to life, from conception”, reinforcing the criminalization of women who chose to interrupt a pregnancy.
Barrier to legal abortion
This week, nearly 350 civil society organizations released a joint statement against a ministerial order issued by the Ministry of Health that creates barriers for the performance of legal abortions in rape cases. The measure, published on August 27 and signed by the interim minister, Eduardo Pazuello, makes notification to the police mandatory by the medical team, other health professionals and even those in charge of the facility that received the patient.