The Battle Over Abortion Rights in Brazil’s State Arenas, 1995-2006

Marta Rodriguez de Assis Machado and Débora Alves Maciel (2017)

The article is one of three recent publications from the project Abortion Rights Lawfare in Latin America.

This article proposes a relational approach to the study of abortion law reform in Brazil. It focuses on the interaction of pro-choice and anti-abortion movements in different state arenas and political contexts. It details the emergence of a strategic action field on abortion during the Brazilian re-democratization process and the National Constituent Assembly. We offer analysis on pro-choice and anti-abortion mobilization in state arenas—mainly in the executive and legislative powers—during the two terms of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (FHC), 1995–1998 and 1999–2002, and the first term of President Luís Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula), 2003–2006. We then map political resources for mobilization, such as legislative bills, public policy norms, and judicial decisions, and track legal continuities and changes. Finally, we analyze anti-abortion reaction, which was consolidated through an increased conservative presence in congress after 2006, and discuss how the abortion debate has migrated from congress to the Supreme Court and the public sphere.