The Case of Gabriel, the First Person With Microcephaly to Win the Right to Life

How a yellow jersey is dividing Brazil: A review of the past 12 years shows how the South American country has taken two different paths on the issue of race through the years.

On September 12, 2010, a young boy in Bahia, Brazil, named Gabriel was born with severe microcephaly, a birth defect that left his head nearly three times the size of his body at birth.

Gabriel’s case drew the attention of the country’s media, and when his mother complained publicly about what she called “excessive media attention,” she was threatened and her phone was confiscated.

A week before Gabriel was to enter the hospital, his parents held a public rally to speak to the press, and the story had already been published three days before his birth.

I had never heard of a public rally, and neither did most reporters covering the story, but this event had a powerful effect on public relations as it was published in the local paper. The attention on Gabriel’s birth was so intense that a group of journalists, politicians and activists organized a press conference and held a rally at the hospital, where he would be born.

The boy born with microcephaly was named Gabriel, and he became the first person with the condition to achieve his own level of notoriety, a title that is now often used as a political weapon to divide Brazil, whose leaders have been criticized for not adequately caring for the health of their citizens of African descent.

On June 22, the National Assembly of Brazil, then under the leadership of the left-wing Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores—PT), unanimously voted to remove from its agenda a resolution in support of Gabriel’s right to life and to recognize his right to freedom of expression.

On July 15, the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled against Gabriel’s mother and the hospital in question, ruling in favor of the boy’s right to life. On August 17, the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled to recognize Gabriel’s right to life in the face of a legal challenge made by the family of another patient who was born with microcephaly and died. Since then, Gabriel’s case has been in the hands of the Brazilian Supreme Court, which

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