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Rev Saude Publica. 2010 Jun;44(3):406-20. Epub 2010 May 7.

Brazilian abortion law: the opinion of judges and prosecutors.

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Departamento de Pesquisas Sociais, Centro de Pesquisa em Saúde Reprodutiva de Campinas, SP, Brazil.



To analyze the opinion of judges and prosecutors concerning Brazilian abortion law and situations in which the abortion should be allowed.


A cross-sectional study was performed with 1,493 judges and 2,614 prosecutors in Brazil between 2005 and 2006. Participants completed a structured questionnaire approaching sociodemographic characteristics, opinions about abortion law, and circumstances in which abortion is considered lawful. Bivariate and multivariate analyses of data were carried out through Poisson regression.


The majority of participants (78%) found that the circumstances in which abortion is considered lawful should be broadened, or even that abortion should not be criminalized. The highest rates of pro-abortion opinions resulted from: risk to the life of the mother (84%), anencephaly (83%), severe congenital malformation of fetus (82%), and pregnancy resulting from rape (82%). Variables related to religion were strongly associated to the opinion of participants.


There is a trend in considering the need of changing the current abortion law, in the sense of widening the circumstances in which abortion is considered lawful, or even toward decriminalizing abortion, regardless of the circumstances in which it takes place.

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