Brazil is the world's largest Catholic country by population, and it places tight restrictions on abortion. It is a crime punishable by up to three years in prison, except in three cases- a brain-damaged fetus, risk of death for the mother and rape. Rights groups estimate that 850,000 women have abortions every year in Brazil, but just 1,500 of them are legal.
Eduardo Cunha, speaker of Brazil's lower house, has introduced a bill that would require rape victims to submit proof before having an abortion. The bill states that it is a crime to help or induce a woman to abort. The bill has also limited the definition of sexual violence to cases in which physical or psychological harm can be proven.
‘Eduardo Cunha has introduced a bill that would require rape victims to submit proof before having an abortion. This has sparked protests across the country. Outraged women have taken to the streets calling for the bill to be shelved.’
This controversial bill has sparked protests by outraged women across the country. Answering rallying cries issued on social networks, thousands of women have taken to the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Brasilia calling for the bill to be shelved. Critics have suggested that the bill's vague language also threatens access to the 'morning-after pill', an emergency contraceptive to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Backers of the bill say that it aims to strengthen rape investigations. But many women disagree. Some critics even call the bill a smokescreen to distract from accusations that Cunha took millions of dollars in bribes in a massive corruption scandal that has engulfed state oil company Petrobras.
These controversies arise as Cunha is center stage in Brazilian politics.