The following article appeared in Essentially MIDIRS news, vol 5, no 5, p14
A court in Brazil recently authorised the forcible removal of 29 year old Adelir Carmen Lemos de Góes from her home in Torres. She was taken to Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes hospital where she was ordered to have a caesarean section against her will.
It was reported that Adelir, who had already given birth twice by caesarean, had wanted to have her third baby vaginally, but the rates of birth by caesarean section in Brazil are some of the highest in the world, with figures for those with private health care
Reproductive rights lawyer, Gabriella Sallit, commented that “the judicial decision of Rio Grande do Sul goes completely against the principles of human rights” and that the judgement demonstrates that “the mother is only a package that carries a baby”. There are also objections to the fact that the father, Emerson Guimarães was not allowed to attend the birth because the hospital described him as “acting frantic”, but Sallit points out that “There is a federal law that guarantees this right. This was a violation that can’t be justified in any way. This family was a victim of institutionalized torture and the State was the wrongdoer”.
Interestingly, following protests by human rights campaigners, some of whom marched on Brazilian embassies across the world carrying banners proclaiming, ‘Somos Todas Adelir’ (we are all Adelir), the Brazilian government issued a statement that said: ‘The Presidency and the Ministry of Health hereby sympathise with Adelir Carmen Lemos de Goes, who was subjected against their will, to a CS [c-section] by Justice decision on the 1st April,’ which it says ‘points to a number of issues surrounding human rights in health. The woman has the right to choose how the birth of her baby will be, the position of labor, and who should accompany her at this time’ (Turner & Hill 2014). The world is watching, waiting to see if and how Adelir’s story will affect Brazil’s approach to human rights.
Turner B, Hill M (2014). ‘Kidnapped’ by the authorities: meet the woman forced to have a caesarean. The Telegraph, 17 April. http://tinyurl.com/or89v6p [Accessed 28 April 2014].
Torloni MR, Daher S, Betran AP et al (2011). Portrayal of caesarean section in Brazilian women’s magazines: 20 year review. BMJ 342(7792):324.
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