Brazilian presidential candidate, Dilma Rousseff, met with Christian leaders on Wednesday this week and explained to them she is “against abortion.” However, yesterday she clarified that her position on the issue has not changed and that she considers abortion to be an issue of “public health.”
According to the Spanish daily El Pais, “With the Brazilian presidential elections just 36 hours away, the legalization of abortion has put the President Lula da Silva’s candidate in a bind. Her changing opinion on abortion, which she firmly defended before, and the cases of corruption she has had to confront recently, are threatening to derail the prospects of crushing victory in the first round of voting.”
The newspaper pointed out that in 2009, Rousseff told the magazine Marie Claire that she supported abortion. “Abortion isn’t easy for any woman. I doubt anyone feels comfortable having an abortion. However, that cannot be the reason why it shouldn’t be legal.”
El Pais said Rousseff’s falling poll numbers led President Lula to organize a meeting between her and leading religious leaders in Brazil in order to assure them that she is against abortion. Speaking to voters in the city of Aracaju on Thursday, Lula said, “I can vouch that she is against it.” The newspaper reported that Brazil’s Catholic bishops as well as the majority of evangelical pastors have urged their faithful not to vote for Rousseff because of her pro-abortion stance.
In a story published today the Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo reported, “The Labor Party’s presidential candidate, Dilma Rousseff, repeated yesterday that she has not changed her position on abortion and expressed ‘regret’ over comments by candidate Marina Silva, who said she has adopted a conservative position to gain votes.” Rousseff chided her opponent for “making comments about my convictions,” saying her opposition to abortion is “a personal position.”
Those comments echoed her statements in August, in which she softened her support for abortion by saying she was “personally opposed” to the practice but that it should be available for women with limited resources.
In a presidential debate, Rousseff said abortion in Brazil was not a private matter but rather a “matter of public health” and should be available especially to poor women who resort to the procedure “out of desperation” and who endanger their lives with back-alley abortions.
Rousseff has been roundly criticized for skipping a debate organized by the Catholic media in Brazil on August 23 and for her past involvement in guerrilla movements between 1967 and 1968.
Venezuelan’s president Hugo Chavez has referred to Rousseff as “my candidate.”