Home Institution

Denison University

Publication Date

Fall 2005

Program Name

Brazil: Culture, Development, and Social Justice


Under Brazilian law, abortions are prohibited in all cases except for pregnancies resulting from rape or sexual violence and pregnancies which present possible death or harm to the mother. Upon a closer look, however, it is obvious that regardless of the illegality, Brazilian women are getting abortions. In light of this, I conducted a research project to uncover more about the reality that Brazilian women, specifically located in Praia Grande (a small community on Ilha de Mare off the coast of Salvador), face given the simultaneous existence of the two situations listed above (which I refer to as the “abortion gap”). I hypothesized that the poor, black women in NE Brazil will comprise the group that faces the harshest reality due to the illegality of abortion. I also believed that these women will consider the legalization of abortion to be an improvement; that they will recognize that abortions take place regardless of their legality and that abortions done under legal standards would be cleaner and safer than those that are currently being done illegally. Following my research, I concluded that although I was correct in anticipating that the poor, black women of NE Brazil face the harshest reality, the opinions concerning the abortion gap that I had predicted that they would hold were not correct. In actuality, based on the contact I had with the women of Praia Grande, they believe that the legalization of abortion will make their lives and situation worse.


Public Health | Public Policy


Article Location