Whether because Bolsonaro does not believe in the inestimable value of all lives, or because his campaign is not aware of the challenges for the agenda, the absence of the issue in his government plan is unjustifiable
Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro (PSL) has registered today (14th) his candidacy in the Electoral Superior Court (Tribunal Superior Eleitoral, TSE), and released his government plan, an extensive 81-page document called “The Path to Prosperity”. Regrettably, in such a huge volume there is not a single mention on the abortion problem or on the defense of human life since its conception. Considering the country is in the middle of a legal and political debate on the issue, and that Latin America is now the center of international pressures for the legalization of abortion, its absence is unjustifiable. But there is still time to make up for the lost time.
It is true that Bolsonaro has recently spoken out against changes in the current legislation, which does not punish abortions in pregnancies caused by sexual violence or which may pose a risk of life to the mother – the Supreme Court even created a third hypothesis, in 2012, for the case of anencephalic fetuses. The army reserve captain also said he would veto the legalization of abortion if he is elected president and the Congress approved the bill, but also stated that, if Congress overturned his veto there would be nothing he could do about it. Formally, that is true. Politically, not so much.
Besides, during an interview to IstoÉ Gente in 2000, Bolsonaro said that the abortion “should be a decision taken by both parents”. That statement, which reeks of an unacceptable moral relativism, along with other birth control proposals defended by the candidate, is a red flag for all those who defend life regarding Bolsonaro’s true convictions about the value of human life. These suspicions have been renewed in view of the complete absence of the issue in his government plan.
However, independently of Bolsonaro’s intimate convictions, the PSL candidate still has a strong support of evangelical leaders such as senator Magno Malta (PR), who recently made a speech during the Supreme Court’s public hearing on abortion, speaking on behalf of the Parliamentary Front in Defense of Life and Family. That is relevant when considering the agenda defending life during the next years, when Congress may have to face a decision taken by the Supreme Court in ADPF 442 which could legalize abortion up to the 12th week of gestation. Although the so-called “Centrão” is allied to Alckmin, their moral allegiance lies really with Bolsonaro.
In case the pressure for the legalization of abortion increase (and it will), it would be a positive thing to have an Executive Branch – and a president – working to defend life since its conception, in an alliance with Congress. It is worth remembering the example given by Argentina’s current president, Maurício Macri: during his campaign, the candidate stated that during his administration there would not be any changes in the legislation regarding abortion, but soon after being elected not only did he not oppose the voting of the bill, but even encouraged it.
To make matters worse, the absence of any mention of the subject in his government plan betrays Bolsonaro’s lack of preparation when it comes to diagnosing and confronting the pressure against the defense of life in the current scenario. His government plan mentions in its last pages a “new Itamaraty”, but what really stands out there are the need for bilateral agreements and the desire to align the country to Western democracies. These are undeniably important points, but one cannot ignore that Itamaraty’s bureaucracy is an enthusiast of the ambiguous agenda of “sexual and reproductive health” in international organisms, where it acts practically unfettered, aligning itself to the powerful abortion lobby, while the political world and the population are left aside, alienated.
Despite all its problems, Donald Trump’s administration in the United States has acted with a strong hand in the international arena to turn off the resource tap to the abortion lobby all over the world, and Brazil should be mindful of the possibility of building an international alliance in the defense of life.
Whether because Bolsonaro does not truly believe in the inestimable value of all human life, and in its intrinsical dignity, or because his campaign is not aware of the challenges and opportunities for the agenda of life, in Brazil and in the world, the fact is that the silence on abortion and the defense of life in his government plan is a cold shower on all those who wanted to see a consistent conservative candidate in Brazil. It would be positive if the candidate fulfilled that absence, taking a stand with more firmness and clarity on those issues during these two months of campaign.
READ IT IN PORTUGUESE: A lamentável ausência no plano de governo de Jair Bolsonaro