During the 1980s the creation of the Program of Assistance to the Health of Women (PAISM) in 1983 and the policy of the Ministry of Welfare and Social Assistance initiated in 1986 to increase services to the female population changed the public policy regarding human reproduction in Brazil. The question of reproductive rights and protection of the health of the woman throughout her life was the focus of this policy. A commission constituted in 1985 set out to investigate the control of fertility, the increased number of sterilizations, induced abortions, new contraceptives, and the increasing number of medical interventions in the reproductive process to ascertain economic, social, and political ramifications. A neo-Malthusian view was asserting itself in the Third World countries aiming at the conservation of social development vis-a-vis the pressure of demographic explosion. By the mid-1980s the debate shifted toward the need to reduce the fertility rate by a family planning campaign, since the previous military government limited public participation in social policy decisions. The fertility rate was 6.2 children/women in the 1940s and 1950s, 6.3 in the 1960s, declining by 5.6 by 1970 and to 4.2 by the early 1980s. At several international conferences on population policy neo-Malthusian approaches were rejected in favor of family planning programs and health care assistance to women. The penal code was modified to ease abortion in high risk pregnancies. Finally, the increasing demand for contraceptives aided by the interests of the pharmaceutical industry, the women's movement in the late 1970s, and the dissemination of birth control information to low income people have brought about change in fertility control, but the vagaries of the Ministry of Health have not led to full implementation of policies.