RIO DE JANEIRO—Two dozen women formed a circle and linked hands on a stretch of concrete near the Carioca metro station here Wednesday, dancing and chanting. They called for the fall of Eduardo Cunha, the speaker of Brazil’s lower house of congress, because of a new law he’s proposed that would make abortions much harder to obtain in a country where they are already all but illegal.
“Women should have the right to choose,” said the group’s leader, Luciana Targino, who wore a pink flag as a cape. The women’s rally was a small element of a larger march against Cunha that day by unions and other interest groups. But it echoed the actions of thousands of women who have taken to the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Brasilia in recent months to protest the abortion law, specifically, and Cunha in general.
Roughly a fifth of Brazilian women will have an abortion by age 40—either by paying exorbitant fees to secret clinics, ordering abortifacient pills, or traveling to Uruguay. If caught, they can be criminally tried, though in practice few such women are jailed.
Legally, Brazilian women can only abort if they’ve been raped, if their life is threatened, or if sonograms reveal a brain deformity in the fetus. Cunha’s proposed bill would make things more difficult for women in the first category. It would require rape victims seeking abortions to report to a police station and have their bodies examined, and it could limit access to the morning-after pill. People who give women advice on how to obtain abortions could be jailed.