.- The Catholic vote in Brazil could be a decisive factor in President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s chances for reelection if he decides to authorize the national heath system to widen access to abortion, said a member of the Brazilian Bishops Conference this week. Bishop Rafael Llano Cifuentes, president of the Bishops Committee on Life and the Family, expressed his grave concern that President Lula might make abortion more accessible in country. After meeting with the President, Bishop Llano Cifuentes said the leader assured him of his opposition to abortion. However, the bishop said Lula was at least incoherent since last week the Heath Ministry said it would be more flexible with women who are seeking abortion.
Until just last week, abortions could only be obtained in Brazil in cases of grave health risk to the mother or police-verified rape. In practice, however, police verification is no longer necessary to obtain abortion in cases of rape.