Accepted Paper:

The morality of family planning in Brazil: between biopolitics and social inequalities  

Author:

Silvia De Zordo (University of Barcelona)

Paper short abstract:

In this presentation I will examine family-planning politics in Brazil as biopolitics, through the presentation and discussion of some ethnographic data from my fieldwork in some public family-planning centres in Salvador de Bahia.

Paper long abstract:

In this presentation I will examine family planning politics in Brazil as bio-politics. Through the presentation of some ethnographic data from my fieldwork in Salvador de Bahia I will discuss the moral dimensions of these politics from the discourses of different actors, in particular doctors working in public family planning centres and their patients.

In Brazil the first family planning programs have been carried out by International Agencies and national private Institutions since the second half of the Sixties, during the Dictatorship (1964-1984), through the diffusion of two main contraceptives: the pill and women's sterilization. In 1991 the rate of women who had been sterilized was so high that a Parliamentary Commission was formed and a federal law finally established some limits of age and the impossibility of practicing sterilization and the Caesarian at the same time. The family planning programs developed before the law were defined as neo-malthusian birth-control programs and new public programs were carried out, including programs for the prevention of HIV and STD. However even now sterilization is the contraceptive most used in the country. At the same time abortion, which is illegal, is still one of the main causes of motherly death, especially in poor regions like Bahia. What kind of moral values concerning sexuality, parenthood and gender are at stake here? Do we have to consider other issues, as class and race, to understand the contemporary debate about family planning in Brazil? Can we talk about bio-politics in this context?

Panel W082
Anthropology of biopolitics and moral choices