hope you are all joining the big demonstration
in Washington on Sunday - either in person or in
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:
April 7, 2004
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
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
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
"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
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
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
"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
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
President Bush, listen to your mother.
HARD TO BE A
REPUBLICAN IN 2004
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!