Child Pregnancy Bill

Streets of Brazil continue to erupt in fury against the “Child Pregnancy Bill”

Thousands took to the streets in São Paulo on Saturday to protest the bill in the Chamber of Deputies that equates abortion to homicide
Photo: Caroline Oliveira/Brasil de Fato

by Nara LacerdaCaroline Oliveira

On Saturday, June 15, a demonstration against the bill that criminalizes legal abortion, dubbed the “Child Pregnancy Bill”, was held on Paulista Avenue in the city of São Paulo. The protesters walked down Augusta Street towards downtown São Paulo.

Bill Number 1904/2024 punishes those who provide abortions, as well as the woman receiving the abortion, with the same sentence applied in homicide cases—even for abortion procedures allowed by Brazil’s legislation.

Since Wednesday, the bill has been processed on an urgent basis by the Chamber of Deputies, which means it doesn’t need to be assessed by commissions and can go straight to plenary voting.

Marcia Carvalho, an educator, was one of the protesters in São Paulo. She stressed the retrograde nature of the bill. “We must overturn this bill. We can’t go back on the small rights we’ve already won. Right now, all women have to be on the streets. We can’t believe that right-wing extremists are putting this on the agenda with so many problems to be resolved in this country.”

The bill establishes a punishment of 6 to 20 years in prison for abortions carried out over 22 weeks of pregnancy. A slightly smaller sentence is applied for abortions as a result of rape, from 6 to 10 years. 

It was dubbed the “Child Pregnancy Bill” because it affects mainly child rape victims. In 2022, they accounted for more than 60% of the victims of this type of crime, which most often takes place at home and is perpetrated by family members.

Writer Daniela Abade, who took part in the event, stressed the proposal’s unconstitutionality. 

“It would be absurd to sentence a girl or woman victim of rape, a victim of a horrible crime, and condemn her to spend more time in prison than the criminal himself. We must revert these archaic laws we still have in Brazil. Those defending this bill are fighting for the death of women.”

The decision by the Chamber of Deputies to fast-track the process of the bill has sparked demonstrations across the country since last Thursday.

People’s movements, women’s rights organizations, and the population in general condemn the agreement between the evangelical caucus and the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira, to put the issue on the agenda. 

Jéssica Lourenço, a nursing technician who joined mobilizations in São Paulo on Saturday, sees the process as a way to destabilize the government.

“From what I’ve seen on social media, they’ve rushed more to destabilize the government than out of any real interest in the lives they say they’re going to save. We know that once a baby is born, they don’t care anymore. They have to know that we don’t agree, that people don’t agree with this.” 

The massive backlash made Arthur Lira state that the bill should not be put to vote in the short term. He also stated that he intends to choose a woman to be the rapporteur.

Taking part in the demonstration in São Paulo, federal deputy Fernanda Melchionna, of the Socialism and Freedom Party, said that the only acceptable way out is for the bill to be shelved.

“We can’t accept this boring routine of putting the bill aside and, then, proposing another bill with a lower sentence. I expect to bury this bill. I can see that the far right and the centrists are trying to get it off the agenda now and buy time.”

Also at the protest, federal deputy Juliana Cardoso, of the Workers’ Party, emphasized that the demonstration strengthens the political confrontation of the abortion agenda.

“When the streets mobilize, when feminist women mobilize, they strengthen us, who are in such a sexist and hostile atmosphere to confront it much more intensely. This bill cannot be approved. It has to be shelved.”

This article was first published on Brasil de Fato.