Brazil’s New Family Planning Program Angers Catholic Church

Brazil has launched a new family planning program that distributes free contraceptives through the country’s 6,012 hospitals and 63,662 clinics, angering Brazil’s Roman Catholic Church. Bishop Rafael Liano Cifuentes denounced the new program, saying that it “will promote the sexual perversion of teenagers, which means prostitution. It’s like telling teenage girls, go out and enjoy an active sex life for the government will guarantee that you won’t get pregnant,” reports the Associated Press.

Brazil’s strict penal code only allows abortions to be performed when the woman’s life is endangered or when pregnancy is a result of rape. The chief justice of Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court, Nelson Jobim, is warning doctors that if they perform abortions on rape victims without a police report they could be subject to legal prosecution, according to Inter Press Service News Agency. However, Brazil’s laws do not stipulate that a police report is necessary for doctors to perform abortions, IPS reports.

IPS reports that an estimated 750,000 to 1.4 million abortions are carried out every year in Brazil, the majority taking place in unsafe conditions. There were only 1.31 million abortions in the United States in 2000, where abortion is legal, despite the fact that the United States is more than twice the size of Brazil. Health care service providers in Brazil treat over 250,000 women who are suffering from complications from the clandestine abortions annually.

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Inter Press Service News Agency 3/16/05; Associated Press 3/22/05

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