BRASILIA, Brazil, JULY 12, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The decision by the Brazilian federal Supreme Court to allow the abortion of anencephalic fetuses — those missing part or all of the brain — could lead to even worse developments, warns a pro-lifer.
Humberto Vieira, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life and president of Brazil’s Pro-Life and Pro-Family Association, analyzed the potential impact of the July 1 court decision, in this interview with ZENIT.
Q: The CNBB [Brazilian bishops’ conference] has published a statement expressing surprise at the decision of Minister Marco Aurelio of the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court, to authorize abortion in cases of fetal anencephaly. Pro-life associations have also been surprised. What do you think of the government minister’s decision?
Vieira: Not only the CNBB, but all of us have been surprised. I have followed the whole process with Dr. Paulo Leao, president of the Association of Catholic Jurists of Rio de Janeiro.
The question was on the agenda of the meeting of the STF [Supreme Court] on the first day, and had been scheduled for 1 p.m. We prepared for this meeting and also wrote a memorandum to give to the STF ministers.
When we were going to the headquarters of the court, we were told that the meeting had been brought forward to 10 a.m., and that the issue of anencephaly had not been addressed.
We were surprised immediately after by the news that abortion in these cases has been authorized. I imagine that the minister-relator made the decision to allow abortion in cases of anencephaly in virtue of the arguments presented during the process. We know, however, that they are unfounded and we have demonstrated this in the memorandum.
Q: Does the minister’s decision mean that other types of abortion will have to be addressed in the future?
Vieira: Eugenic abortion is defended by those who want the improvement of the human race and [who] invest millions of dollars, also in Brazil, to achieve their objectives.
This is a dangerous precedent, because it opens the way to other types of abortion, for example, of the physically or mentally disabled, and even healthy human beings who, however, do not fit the criteria approved by eugenic groups.
The poor, the mutilated, and blacks, according to these groups, are “sub-races” and must not prosper, for which sterilization and compulsory abortion are instruments to contain these fringes of the population.
“After Hitler, eugenics has not disappeared. It has been renewed,” said Edwin Black in his recently published book “The War Against the Weak — Eugenics and the North American Campaign to Create a Superior Race.”
Q: What consequences can abortion have for a woman, even in the case of the gestation of a child with a serious illness, such as anencephaly?
Vieira: The abortion of anencephalic offspring, as any other kind of abortion, has very serious consequences for a woman. A woman is not exempt from the consequences of abortion by the mere fact that she bears an anencephalic fetus.
Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who fought to have abortion made legal in the United States and who admits that he carried out 5,000 abortions, is today a defender of life and says that among the physical consequences of abortion is the laceration of the neck of the womb, caused by the use of dilators, the perforation of the uterus, uterine hemorrhages, post-abortion endometritis, incomplete evacuation of the uterine cavity, insufficiency or incapacity of the uterine neck, increase in the level of Caesarean sections.
Among the psychological consequences associated with abortion are those relating to the post-abortion syndrome: fall in self-esteem by the fact of having eliminated one’s own child; frigidity; hostility toward one’s husband or partner; guilt feelings or frustration of the maternal instinct; nervous problems; insomnia; neuroses of various kinds; psychosomatic illnesses; depressions; etc.
Many women who abort become desperate and attempt suicide, not forgiving themselves for having killed their own child. These consequences are far more serious than those of gestating an anencephalic fetus.
Q: Why are the Church and pro-life associations against abortion in the case of anencephaly, a type of congenital anomaly for which at present there is no treatment?
Vieira: The Church and pro-life associations defend human life from fertilization until natural death. Every human being is loved by God, regardless of the fact he is the bearer of anomalies.
Science states that from the fusion of the spermatozoid with the ovum a new being originates. “At the beginning of the being there is a message that contains life and is life. And if this message is human, this life is human,” said professor Jérôme Lejeune, the geneticist who discovered Down syndrome.
The Church, like all of us who are for life, bases itself on the commandment “Thou shalt not kill.”
Q: What can society and pro-life associations do to try to modify the situation of free abortion of anencephalic fetuses?
Vieira: The decision of the distinguished Minister Marco Aurelio, the relator who has given permission for the freedom of abortion in case of anencephaly, must be submitted to the STF’s plenary, which will decide if it will be maintained.
The National Association of Catholic Jurists of Rio de Janeiro and the Pro-Life and Pro-Family National Association will present to the distinguished ministers of the STF a memorandum founded on scientific bases that are opposed to the false arguments presented for the granting of the permission.
Other organizations that defend human life will also present their own arguments. We are certain that the distinguished members of the STF will make the right decision once the question is clearer.
Q: What risks are implied for a woman gestating an anencephalic fetus?
Vieira: No other risk than those of a pregnancy with a fetus without anomalies. This is what gynecologists, medical associations, and experts affirm. All abortions, instead, imply physical and psychological consequences for a woman.