Brazilian high court to rule on abortion of anacephalic babies


Justice Marco Aurelio Mello of the Brazilian Supreme Court said that in the wake of the approval of a law permitting research with frozen human embryos, “the Court is ready to rule on the case” of anacephaly abortions.

According to his opinion column posted on a blog for the Folha de Sao Paulo website, Mello explained that the ruling on embryonic stem cell research “paved the way” for a reconsideration of a law that would legalize abortion in cases of anacephaly, in which a baby is born with a partially or completely missing brain.

Despite the testimonies of cases like that of Marcela de Jesus Galante Ferreira, an anacephalic baby who in September of 2007 was ten months old and surprised family members and observers, as normally babies with this condition do not live longer than three months, Mello said that legalizing abortion in cases such as Marcela’s is “the first step towards a ruling on abortion,” which he hopes the entire court will decide.

Mello also explained that he hopes to hold public hearings on the issue.  It would only be the second time in 198 years that the Supreme Court has held such hearings.  The first instance was over the issue of embryonic stem cell research. 

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