Ministry of Health revokes ordinance that complicates legal abortion in the public health service

Norm annulled by the ministry violated the sexual and reproductive rights of victims of sexual violence

A ministra da Saúde, Nísia Trindade, durante cerimônia de investidura no cargo (Foto: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil) A ministra da Saúde, Nísia Trindade, durante cerimônia de investidura no cargo (Foto: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil)

On Tuesday (16), the Ministry of Health revoked six decrees signed by Jair Bolsonaro´s government. According to the Ministry, they contravene the guidelines of the Brazilian public health service (SUS: Single Health System). One of the ordinances that were revoked (Ordinance nº 2.561) stipulated the need for the medical team to notify the police in the case of an abortion resulting from rape. 

This ordinance, issued in September 2020, complicated legal abortion in cases covered by the law. The text made the process more bureaucratic and painful by setting out four stages in the procedure: the victim´s account to health professionals; the completion of a technical report signed by three members of the medical team; a term of responsibility to be signed by the victim and finally a term of consent also to be signed by the victim. At one of the stages, the ordinance states that doctors must inform whether it is possible to see the foetus or embryo on an ultrasound. 

Civil society pressure 

At the time, civil society organisations expressed concern over the ordinance, classifying it as a violation of sexual and reproductive rights. The case was discussed by the Federal Supreme Court (STF) in an action (ADPF 737) put forward by five political parties, with the participation of human rights organisations, among them Conectas, in the role of amicus curiae.

The 2017 norm is now effective once again. The norm refers to termination of pregnancy and contains the technical protocol for carrying out this procedure within SUS. “The ordinance that was revoked was an infringement of the autonomy of women and girls who are the victims of sexual violence in our country. SUS has to be a safe space for these people and above all must guarantee their rights”, says the lawyer, Raissa Belintani, coordinator of the Conectas Programme for Strengthening Democratic Space. 

Science and human rights 

In her acceptance speech at the beginning of January, the Health Minister, had signalled a review of measures that were an affront to science and human rights. According to the ministry, none of the norms that were annulled had been agreed upon by representatives of Conass (the National Board of Health Secretaries) or Conasems (the National Board of Municipal Health Secretaries “The lack of transparency, dialogue and joint agreements between central and local government is totally against the fundamental precepts of SUS, that call for shared management of the Brazilian health service.”

Find out more

Receive Conectas updates by email