Brazilian bishops seek constitutional protection for unborn

.- Four dioceses in the Brazilian state of Sao Paolo have announced a joint effort to prevent the legalization of abortion.

The dioceses of Taubate, Lorena, Caraguatatuba and Guarulhos are pushing for changes to the state constitution that would protect life from conception to natural death.

The move would prevent the legalization of abortion in the state.

Hermes Nery, the coordinator of the pro-life commission for the Diocese of Taubate, explained that the initiative was launched Nov. 27 at Taubate's diocesan cathedral.  Supporters aim to collect 300,000 signatures to put forth a proposal for changes to the Sao Paolo state constitution.

“The federal constitution already states that life cannot be violated, but it does not spell out at what point. We want the state constitution to explicitly declare that human life begins at conception and ends with natural death,” Nery said.

Bishop Carmo Joao Rhoden of Taubate spoke to Vatican Radio, saying, “I think this initiative is important, considering that all the polls show that the Brazilian people are pro-life and therefore against abortion. They are for the protection of human life from the moment of conception,” he added.

Bishop Luiz Gonzaga Bergonzini of Guarulhos told the publication “Status on the Defense of Life” that the effort “is the first step” toward preventing the legalization of abortion in the federal Constitution.

“Life is the greatest value we have and it should be defended from the moment of conception,” he said.

Bishop Gonzaga has been one of the most outspoken critics of the Workers’ Party in Brazil, to which outgoing President Lula da Silva and President-elect Dilma Rousseff belong.

Dilma Rousseff has voiced her support of legalized abortion on various occasions.  Her position cost her some seven million votes in the first round of Brazil’s 2010 presidential elections.  As part of her strategy for the run-offs, she said she was “personally opposed to abortion” and promised that if she is elected president she would not sent proposals to legalize the procedure to Congress. 

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