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Brazil: Thousands protest bill tightening abortion ban | World News

Thousands of Brazilian women protested on Saturday against a bill that would tighten Brazil’s ban on abortion.

Under the bill, abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy would be considered homicide, even in cases of rape.

What we know about the bill tightening Brazil’s abortion ban

In Brazil, abortion is currently only allowed in cases of rape, fetal deformation or when the mother’s life is in danger. Otherwise, the practice is punishable by between one and three years in jail.

The bill advancing in the country’s Congress would establish sentences of six to 20 years for abortions carried out after 22 weeks of gestation.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who belongs to the left-wing Workers’ Party (PT), called the bill “insane.”

“It is insane to want to punish a woman with a greater penalty than the criminal who committed the rape,” Lula said at a press conference at the G7 summit in Italy.

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While Lula defeated right-wing former President Jair Bolsonaro in a presidential election in 2022, right-wing parties strengthened their majority in the lower house of parliament.

The bill’s passage in the Senate is less certain, as right-wing parties have fewer seats there than in the lower house. Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco of the centrist Social Democratic Party (SDP) has said the bill must be debated in committees.

Protesters launch ‘a child is not a mother’ campaign

Protests began in Brazil’s largest cities after the lower chamber of Congress voted to accelerate the approval of the bill.

On Saturday afternoon, around 10,000 people filled several blocks of central Sao Paulo, marking one of the biggest demonstrations since the outbreak of protests.

Critics of the bill have argued that those who seek abortions late are largely child rape victims as their pregnancies are often detected later.

Protesters have used the “A child is not a mother” slogan to voice their opposition to the proposed change in law.

Many critics point out that the new measure could lead to rape victims seeking abortions facing longer prison sentences than rapists. In response, right-wing lawmaker Sostenes Cavalcante, who authored the bill, said he will propose harsher sentences for rape.

The maximum sentence for rape is currently 10 years.

Cavalcante is an evangelical pastor and a member of Bolsonaro’s right-wing Liberal Party.

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