Church Convinces Brazil to End Plan to Mail Free Contraception

Rio de Janeiro’s municipal government’s decision to start distributing free birth control pills and condoms through the mail to low-income women, men, and minors was dropped due to pressure from the Roman Catholic Church. The mayor of Rio de Janeiro has denied that the Church pressured him to end the program, though his decision was made after a meeting with Rio’s Archbishop Eugenio Scheid, reports the Independent Online. The Archbishop was the first to announce the cancellation of the project, saying that the birth control pill had negative health effects.

The program was intended to give poor women the same opportunities to prevent unwanted pregnancies as richer women. The pills would have been sent with condoms for additional safety. Some 23,000 women and teenagers had already signed up to receive the free contraceptives, reports Kaiser.

In Brazil, most contraceptive methods are legal while abortion is illegal in most cases. Brazil is also the world’s largest Roman Catholic country.

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UK Reuters 1/021/04; Independent Online South Africa 1/21/04; Kaiser Daily News 1/21/04; Reuters 1/19/04

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