Newsletter for American friends 24. April 2004

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pro-choice supporters taking action



Dear   friends

I  hope you are all joining the big demonstration in Washington on Sunday - either in person or in spirit.
For look what happened here in Europe when a country outlawed abortion
......and what could happend in America if Bush gets 4 more years to change Supreme Court into his liking. Read the story here below:




 The Abortion Question


April 7, 2004

New York Times op-ed columnist 



LISBON - To understand what might happen in America if President Bush gets his way with the Supreme Court, consider recent events in Portugal.


Seven women were tried this year in the northern Portuguese fishing community of Aveiro for getting abortions. They were prosecuted - facing three-year prison sentences - along with 10 "accomplices," including husbands, boyfriends, parents and a taxi driver who had taken a pregnant woman to a clinic.


The police staked out gynecological clinics and investigated those who emerged looking as if they might have had abortions because they looked particularly pale, weak or upset. At the trial, the most intimate aspects of their gynecological history were revealed.


This was the second such mass abortion trial lately in Portugal. The previous one involved 42 defendants, including a girl who had been 16 at the time of the alleged abortion.


Both trials ended in acquittals, except for a nurse who was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison for performing abortions.


Portugal, like the U.S., is an industrialized democracy with a conservative religious streak, but the trials have repulsed the Portuguese. A recent opinion poll shows that people here now favor abortion rights, 79 percent to 14 percent. In a sign of the changing mood, Portugal's president recently commuted the remainder of the nurse's sentence. There's a growing sense that while abortion may be wrong, criminalization is worse.


"It's very embarrassing," said Sandy Gageiro, a Lisbon journalist who covered the trials. "Lots of reporters came and covered Portugal and said it had this medieval process."


Portugal offers a couple of sobering lessons for Americans who, like Mr. Bush, aim to overturn Roe v. Wade.


The first is that abortion laws are very difficult to enforce in a world as mobile as ours. Some 20,000 Portuguese women still get abortions each year, mostly by crossing the border into Spain. In the U.S., where an overturn of Roe v. Wade would probably mean bans on abortion only in a patchwork of Bible Belt states, pregnant women would travel to places like New York, California and Illinois for their abortions.


The second is that if states did criminalize abortion, they would face a backlash as the public focus shifted from the fetus to the woman. "The fundamentalists have lost the debate" in Portugal, said Helena Pinto, president of UMAR, a Portuguese abortion rights group. "Now the debate has shifted to the rights of women. Do we want to live in a country where women can be in jail for abortion?"


Mr. Bush and other conservatives have chipped away successfully at abortion rights, as Gloria Feldt notes in her new book, "The War on Choice." That's because their strategy has been to focus on procedures like so-called partial-birth abortion and on protecting fetal rights. The strategy succeeds because most Americans share Mr. Bush's aversion to abortion.


As do I.


Like most Americans, I find abortion a difficult issue, because a fetus seems much more than a lump of tissue but considerably less than a human being. Most of us are deeply uncomfortable with abortion, especially in the third trimester, but we still don't equate it with murder.


That's why it makes sense to try to reduce abortions by encouraging sex education and contraception. The conservative impulse to teach abstinence only, without promoting contraception, is probably one reason the U.S. has so many more abortions per capita than Canada or Britain.


Portugal's experience suggests that while many people are offended by abortion on demand, they might be even more troubled by criminalization of abortion.


"Forbidding abortion doesn't save anyone or anything," said Sonia Fertuzinhos, a member of the Portuguese Parliament. "It just gets women arrested and humiliated in the public arena."


The upshot is that many Portuguese seem to be both anti-abortion and pro-choice. They are morally uncomfortable with abortion, especially late in pregnancies, but they don't think the solution is to arrest young women for making agonizing personal choices to end their pregnancies.


As one sensible woman put it in her autobiography: "For me, abortion is a personal issue - between the mother, father and doctor." She added, "Abortion is not a presidential matter."


President Bush, listen to your mother.








 Somehow, you have to believe that:


1.  Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.


2.  The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U. N. resolutions against Iraq.


3.  "Standing Tall for America" means firing your workers and moving their jobs to India.


4.  A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.


5.  Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host.  Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.


6.  The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.


7.  Group sex and drug use are degenerate sins unless you someday run for governor of California as a Republican.


8.  If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.


9.  A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time  allies, then demand their cooperation and money.


10.  HMOs and insurance companies have the interest of the public at



11.  Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy.  Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.


12.  Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.


13.  It is okay that the Bush family has done $millions of business with the Bin Laden family.


14.  Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with   him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.


15.  A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense.  A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.


16.  Government should limit itself to the powers named in the  Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and  censoring  the  Internet.


17.  The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but  George Bush's Harken Oil stock trade are none of our business.


18.  You support states' rights, which means Attorney General John Ashcroft can tell states what local voter initiatives they have a right to adopt.


19.  What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.


20.  Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.


21.  Affirmative Action is wrong but that it is ok for your Daddy and his friends to get you into Yale, the Texas Air National Guard, Harvard Business School, part ownership of Harken Oil, part ownership of the Texas Rangers, the Governorship of Texas, and then have the Supreme Court appoint you President of the USA.




Unfortunately I can't join the demonstration with you tomorrow since I am on tour in Norway right now - writing these lines in a library in Oslo.
So I really envy the chance many of you might have for joining this important demonstration which could be one of the biggest since the Vietnam dems.
Oh, how I miss all those huge million-"man" marches on Washington we had in the past. Over here in Fortress Europe people are so apathetic and selfish these days. And don't forget to bring your children with you. Good demonstrations should be a real family gathering. My son will never forget how he was bottlefed on the huge demonstrations in SF and DC against apartheid and the war in Nicaragua in his youth. Demonstrations are fun - and, yes, pro-family! All the best of luck tomorrow!


With love
Jacob Holdt



A  reminder from