One Way to Get a Safe Abortion in Brazil: Pretend You’ve Been Raped

What Women Really Think
April 11 2014 2:44 PM

One Way to Get a Safe Abortion in Brazil: Pretend You’ve Been Raped

174550521-group-of-people-demonstrate-against-the-catholic-church
A pro-choice Brazilian woman protests her country's abortion ban.

Photo by Tasso Marcelo/AFP/Getty Images

An anonymous woman has gone public with her story about falsely claiming to have been raped to get an abortion in Brazil, where abortion is illegal in most other circumstances. Jill Filipovic and Ana Siedschlag interviewed the woman, going by the name of Juliana, in Cosmopolitan, where she talked about the lengths she was willing to go to in order to obtain a safe abortion:

I tried lots of contacts. I found a lot of dodgy people, and I found 1,000 medicines that could help me out, but everything looked dangerous. My worst fear wasn’t dying. My worst fear was the abortion not happening and having a baby that was born with problems.
Advertisement

She tried a number of herbal and over-the-counter remedies, but nothing worked, so she finally caved and decided to lie to the police about being raped:

The chief arrived to interview me. A friend of mine was raped two weeks before this happened, so I told a version of her story to the chief — I told him a stranger raped me near a relative’s house. ...
He told my boyfriend he should be patient with me right now because I would suffer a lot, and that we should be strong and that he would do anything to help me. I felt safe with him — he was a light of hope after all I had been through. I felt really guilty lying to such a kind person.

The ruse worked, and she was able to obtain one of the extremely rare rape exemptions in Brazil's harsh ban on abortion. She is adamant that she did the right thing, an act of civil disobedience, arguing, "I would recommend Brazilian women file false rape reports if they want to have abortions." She believes that, since the system is so unfair to women, women are well within their rights to play the system in order to get the safe health care they need.

For those who think false rape reports are much more common than they actually are: It's important to remember that this woman did not accuse anyone, but made up a stranger in the bushes. She also rejects the danger that false rape reports could cause—as they did in the Duke lacrosse case—since she lives in Brazil, where she says there's not much enthusiasm for prosecuting rape. "The system is corrupt," she writes. "The police don’t investigate, and this is what we have to do — it’s the safest way."

The real issue here is not that this woman lied to the police about something as serious as rape, but rather that she was forced to make the choice between dangerous and wrong—that the Brazilian government, by banning abortion, puts women in this impossible situation where there are no good options. If women have to cheat and lie to get abortions, the ultimate blame lays with the government that won't allow them to exercise their reproductive rights freely. 

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Lifetime Didn’t Find the Steubenville Rape Case Dramatic Enough. So They Added a Little Self-Immolation.

Why Men Can Never Remember Anything

The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Can Never Remember Anything
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 5:19 PM Washington’s Acting Roles
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 3:24 PM Why Innovators Hate MBAs
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.