On June 6, 2020, it was widely reported that the technical team associated to the Women’s Health Coordination from the Ministry of Health had been exonerated due to the issuance of a Technical Note related to women’s reproductive and sexual health in the context of the Covid-19 Pandemic (Technical notice n. 16/2020-COSMU/CGCIVI/DAPES/SAPS/MS).
The exoneration was confirmed in edition n. 107 from the Federal Gazette of June 5, 2020 - both Flávia Andrade Fialho, Women’s Health Coordinator, and Danilo Campos da Luz, Men’s Health Coordinator, from the General-coordination of Life Cycles from the Secretariat Primary Health Attention were exonerated (Portarias nº 1.489 and nº 1.490, June 4, 2020).
The President of the Republic, in his social media, expressed criticism to the note issued, stating that it was a technical notice regarding abortion. He also stated that the Ministry of Health strictly follows federal legislation and is against the legalization of abortion.
Considering the facts above, the organizations from the civil society signed below come forward to present their total repudiation to the exoneration of the team from the Women’s Health Coordination, as well as to the President of the Republic’s social media declaration.
It is important to state that the technical note herein mentioned regards the need to guarantee full access to Women’s Health, which includes Sexual and Reproductive Health. In this sense, the technical note proposes a multifaceted approach, including access to information and education in health, rights to reproductive planning and the use of technologies to guarantee full access to Women’s Health during the pandemic.
With regards to abortion, the note specifically regards the statutory cases – in Brazil, there are three situations where abortion is legal, two of which are legislative provisions and one derives from a judgment from the Supreme Court: when there is risk on the woman’s life due to the pregnancy (article 128, I, Penal Code), when the pregnancy is the result of rape (article 128, II, Penal Code), and in the cases of anencephalic fetus (STF decision on ADPF 54).
Consequently, given that there is legal provision for abortion (in the above mentioned situations) in Brazil, then it is in the Government’s responsibility, especially in the Ministry of Health, to develop public policies that will facilitate its execution. This responsibility also arises from the separation of powers, where the executive branch must guarantee the execution of laws approved by the Legislative branch as well as the judgments from the Judiciary branch.
Also, in an extraordinary context such a the current covid-19 pandemic, it becomes even more urgent to guarantee that all women have full access to an integrated health system, which encompasses their sexual and reproductive health. As mentioned in the technical note issued, it is vital that the national health service (“Sistema Único de Saúde – SUS”) guarantees access for all women to this integrated health system, in order to not reinforce the country’s inequality. This is because the right to Health – which includes sexual and reproductive health – is a fundamental right, pursuant to articles 6 and 196 from the Federal Constitution, and it should not be available only to the women who benefit from private health care. Besides, the right to health is associated to all public powers and cannot be removed from the Constitution, not even by constitutional amendment. At last, universal health as the State’s responsibility is guaranteed essentially by public, social and economic policies, such as the ones enunciated in the technical note.
The access to an integrated health system cannot be conditioned to a government’s specific agenda, but is an obligation of the Brazilian state, secured by the Federal Constitution and also international treaties of which Brazil is a signatory, such as the American Convention on Human Rights.
Also, it is noteworthy that the technical note literally complies with the recommendation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH), published on their report on the Pandemic and Human Rights in America. In this occasion, the CIDH expressly recognized the State’s responsibility in guaranteeing availability and continuance of sexual and reproductive health services during the pandemic crisis, and strengthening, the measures of educational health and dissemination of information through accessible means and appropriate language, with the purpose of reaching women in all their diversity.
Given all the abovementioned reasons, the organizations that jointly sign this letter express their repudiation of the exoneration of the technical team from the Women’s Health Coordination from the Ministry of Health, for understanding that the team was fulfilling with their functional obligations and was in compliance with the constitutional and international principles.
Plataforma Raquel Ajuda
Assessoria Popular Maria Felipa ( Minas Gerais)
EIG - Evangélicas pela Igualdade de Gênero
Mulheres em Reconstrução assistidas pelo Cerna
COLETIVO RESISTÊNCIA - BAHIA
Frente Estadual Desencarcera MG
Setorial Jurídico PSOL SP
Movimento das Mulheres do PT
Associação Mulheres Progressistas
Força do Amor
Saúde da mulher
Mulheres da CONEN (Coordenação Nacional de Entidades Negras)
Profesoras universitarias feministas Sinverguenza (ALAMES CLACSO)
Saúde Reprodutiva em Rede
Movimento setenta por cento
Corporación de Estudios de la Mujer Ecuador
Associação Brasileira de Obstetrizes e Enfermeiros Obstetras do Estado de São Paulo
Escola de Enfermagem da Universidade de São Paulo
Saúde para todos
Rede feminista de Itabuna
Rede de Enfrentamento a Violência Contra Mulher do Alto Jequitinhonha (Rede de Mulheres do Alto Jequitinhonha)
Soweto Organização Negra
SOGESP (Associação de Obstetrícia e Ginecologia do Estado de São Paulo)
R-Ladies Belo Horizonte
Rede de Mulheres Negras de Minas Gerais
Ascumha / Associação Sociocultural da Comunidade de Meia Hora
Frente Regional ABC de enfrentamento à violência contra as mulheres
Movimento de Mulheres Olga Benario
Muitas Psi Coletiva Feminista
ALMEM - Associação de Luta Por Moradia Estrela da Manhã
Associação dos moradores Ecopraca e Ecobosque João Pessoa/PB
Grupo Mulheres do Brasil
Grupo Maria Bonita
Niketche: transformando realidades
Frente Feminista de Londrina
Associacao Brasileira dos Operadores Aeromedicos
UMA - União de Mulheres Advogadas
Associação brasileira de Obstetrizes e Enfermeiros Obstetras
UBM Minas Gerais
Mulheres na Politica de Poços de Caldas
União Brasileira de Mulheres - UBM
FioCruz - ENSP
Coletivo Marielle Franco Londrina
Mendonça e Marujo Advogados
Mulheres Explicam Direito
Movimento de apoio às políticas públicas.
Movimento de saúde zona leste/ coletivo Cidadania Ativa
Elas Pedem Vista
Disclaimer: this letter was written by the Visibilidade Feminina Association, which colected signatures via digital form. According to the guidance that accompanied the form, only groups and movements would be referenced. We received 169 responses and indications of support, which were filtered due to repetitions and signatures of individuals. If any movement, group or association has been improperly subscribed, we request to be informed so that we can make the necessary correction.