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Papeles de población

On-line version ISSN 2448-7147Print version ISSN 1405-7425


ZANATTA-COUTINHO, Raquel  and  BRANCO-SIMAO, Andréa. Abortion in the times of Zika: the perspective of women in two Brazilian municipalities. Pap. poblac [online]. 2021, vol.27, n.109, pp.33-57.  Epub Mar 28, 2022. ISSN 2448-7147.

In Brazil, abortion is considered a crime under the Criminal Code since 1940. After the Zika virus epidemic (2015-2017) and the consequent appearance of microcephaly in newborns struck South America, the debate on the decriminalization of abortion in the Brazilian society was reignited. Using data obtained from focus groups comprising women of reproductive age across different socioeconomic strata and two Brazilian cities, we investigated the perceptions of the participants on abortion, especially its use during the Zika epidemic. Although legally criminalized, abortion is prevalent among women, as a way to fulfill their reproductive desire. Criminalization puts the health and lives of women at risk, particularly those with less economic and cultural capital. We also discover the role of friends in women’s decision to utilize the procedure. The strong asymmetry of power between men and women contributes to the greater vulnerability of women. The results suggest an urgent need to review the legislation on abortion concerning its criminalization and the option of safer abortion within the scope of the public health service.

Keywords : Abortion; unsafe abortion; Zika vírus; decriminalization; Focus Groups; Brazil.

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