Despite protests by the Catholic church that legal abortion will be another step closer to reality, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has ratified a new law that aims at protecting victims of sexual abuse.
Four days after Pope Francis ended a week-long visit to Brazil, the world's most populous Catholic country, Rousseff signed the text into law without any veto, her office said.
The legislation mandates that victims of sexual abuse receive emergency treatment in public hospitals and get access to medication to prevent unwanted pregnancies such as the "morning-after pill."
The Catholic church and pro-life groups had urged the president to veto at least some of the most controversial passages of the legislation.
The church fears that the law could be a first step toward broader legalization of abortion, which in Brazil is allowed only in cases of rape or when the mother's life is in danger.
Some evangelical churches had even warned that they would campaign against Rousseff ahead of next year's presidential election if she did not veto the most contentious points that ease restrictions on abortion.
Abortion is a sensitive issue in this country of 194 million people.
It was hotly debated during the 2010 presidential election campaign.
Under intense pressure from Christian churches, Rousseff had pledged in writing not to decriminalize abortion, disappointing feminists and a section of the left.
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