By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s Supreme Court started to hear arguments Friday morning (August 3rd) regarding the decriminalization of abortion in the country. More than fifty people, from health workers, to scientists, to human rights advocates, to representatives of religious entities will defend their opinions on the legalization of the procedure.

Brazil,Brazil's Supreme Court starts public hearing on the decriminalization of abortion.
Brazil’s Supreme Court starts public hearing on the decriminalization of abortion, photo by Jose Cruz/Agencia Brasil.

Currently the termination of a pregnancy is considered legal in Brazil only in cases of rape, anencephalic fetuses or if the pregnant woman’s life is at risk. The new proposal calls for the decriminalization of abortion until the twelve week of pregnancy.

“All opinions are worthy of being heard and believed, even if later on we disagree,” said Supreme Court Chief Justice, Carmen Lúcia Rocha in her opening statement of the session on Friday.

“This is an area of freedom and we are guaranteeing the principle of plurality in this audience,” concluded Rocha.

According to the Ministry of Health, one in five Brazilian women have had an abortion. Data from the Ministry also shows there are a million induced abortions per year in the country, that result in 250,000 hospitalizations and over 200 deaths due to the procedure.

Pro-choice advocates say that these illegal abortions are a major health issue in the country, and that legalizing the procedure would save lives.

A study conducted by Global Health Strategies found that 42 percent of the arguments in defense of the liberation of abortion will be based on scientific data.

Among those who are against the decriminalization, the study shows that 55 percent will make arguments based on religious principles.

Although there is no set deadline, the Court is expected to issue an opinion within the next fifteen days.

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