Tactics & Tactlessness: Abortion in Portugal

Tomorrow, Feb. 11, voters in Portugal will decide whether to liberalize a law that makes having an abortion a criminal offense. As you might imagine – in a strict Roman Catholic country that saw its own brand of the Inquistion – the anti-abortion camp has been running a tough campaign. But some of the church’s tactics have been particularly gruesome:

LISBON, Feb. 9 — Last week, children from two Roman Catholic day-care centers in the port city of Setúbal were sent home with a most unusual note: a fictional letter from a fetus to the woman who conceived and aborted it.

“Mommy, how were you able to kill me?” the letter read. “How were you able to allow me to be cut up in pieces and thrown into a bucket?”

[full story: nytimes]

Other pamphlets – apparently assembled by a Wisconsin church – have also been distributed with similar messages. (source: ips)

But even some opponents of the referendum to de-criminalize abortion criticised the public campaign as over the top – and some are speculating that the tactless measure will backfire on anti-abortionists, instead drawing more people to vote yes.

I’m not about to debate the morality of abortion – but suffice it to say that I think it should be legal. There is a social reality that people need to accept; according to the Times article quoted above, Portugal has the second-highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Europe, despite the availability of the morning-after pill. Making abortion a crime does not erase its practice, it only pushes it into secretive and unsafe conditions.

Portugal’s law is also exceptionally strict, and makes it difficult to get an abortion even if carrying to term poses a health risk for the mother or child. It’s disgusting that supposed people of God are willing to stoop to such sensational and grotesque means to support their idealogy – but I guess that’s nothing new.

1 Response to “Tactics & Tactlessness: Abortion in Portugal”



  1. 1 Nepal: Signs of Progress « The Daily Transit Trackback on June 27, 2007 at 4:50 pm
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