Abortion, and the Earthquake
Lady of Fatima
Behind the Scenes of the
Portuguese Abortion Referendum
by John Andrade, The Fatima Crusader Corespondent in
AS a predominantly Catholic country, Portugal has
traditionally opposed abortion, much to its current politicians'
embarrassment, but the European Union decided long ago to liberalize
it, and all member countries must comply with its directives. When the
Socialist Party took power in a landslide victory in 2005, its leader
Jose Socrates, now the Prime Minister, promised broad reforms, which
included a "modernization" of the abortion law in order to bring it in
line with current European Union legislation.
At that time, abortion was allowed in Portugal only in three specific
circumstances: in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy if the mother's
health was considered to be at risk, or in the first 16 weeks if the
pregnancy was caused by rape, or with no time restrictions if it were
deemed necessary to save the pregnant woman's life. But Prime Minister
Jose Socrates insisted that abortion should be allowed on demand within
the first ten weeks of pregnancy, and called for a referendum as an
excuse to implement his plan. He decided to repeat the 1998 referendum,
in which the pro-abortion lobby had suffered a clear defeat; but this
time he would make sure that would not happen again. It is now known
that he had been under pressure for months from the biggest Spanish
abortion clinics, which is not surprising, because, according to the
press, the abortion business in Portugal will bring in about 9 million
euros a year to the abortionists---and that is a conservative estimate.
A date was set for the referendum: February 11, a Sunday. The
interested parties had less than two months to prepare their campaigns.
In order to secure a victory, Prime Minister Socrates and his key
Ministers actively campaigned to have abortion liberalized, using the
full resources of the Government and giving frequent interviews on
television and in the national press, publicity on a scale which the
pro-life campaigners could never match.
At the same time, the Catholic
Church, which had had a prominent role in defeating the abortionists in
the 1998 referendum, declared that it would not become involved this
time. Cardinal Patriarch Jose Policarpo went so far as to advise
priests that "Eucharistic celebrations are not the place to campaign".
[Emphasis added in red, here and below.] It was no secret that he
favored the liberalization of abortion; he even told the press that the
abortion law "had a certain logic to it". Dom Ilidio Leandro, Bishop of
Viseu, who was thought to be more or less moderate, publicly stated
that he was inclined to vote "Yes", adding that he was "in favor of a
language of dialogue" and that he respected "people who think in a
different way". And all television channels and the national newspapers
presented interviews with priests who favored the "Yes".
Resistance to the liberalization of abortion was thus solely in the
hands of the lay people, and they did organize themselves as best they
could and campaigned vigorously. The Fatima Center also entered the
campaign; it printed and distributed over 600,000 copies of an Open
Letter. It was also published in a major weekly newspaper. Where the
Fatima Center had sent its 600,000 copies, was mostly in the North of
Portugal. This was done at a cost of about $50,000 US and where our
Open Letter was sent, the majority of the vote was for NO, the correct
vote of the Catholic conscience. Reader feedback was overwhelmingly
positive among the laity.
Fearing the possibility of a defeat, which would be catastrophic to
Socrates' Government, the abortionists changed tactics, and claimed
that the referendum was not aimed at liberalizing abortion; it was only
meant to spare women the humiliation of being prosecuted for having had
an abortion. And the lay people in charge of the pro-life campaign
naively reacted by stating that, if they won, they would change the law
in such a way as to avoid such "humiliation"---thereby making many
people think that it wouldn't really matter if they voted "Yes" or
"No", as the result would be practically the same.
February 11 came and there were few doubts that those in favor of
abortion would win. Not surprisingly, turnout was lower than expected. Only 43.6 per cent voted, a
total of 3,851,613 citizens. 59.25 per cent of them voted "Yes", and
40.75 per cent voted "No".
Under Portuguese law, more than 50
per cent of the registered voters must participate in a referendum to
make it valid; otherwise its result will not be binding. Many people
thought that the only chance to defeat the abortionists would be to
abstain from voting. They were wrong.
Prime Minister Socrates said that he would still submit to Parliament
the abortion bill he proposed, and he would personally follow up all
proceedings so as to have it enacted as a law as soon as possible.
Opposition leader Luis Marques Mendes,
who had supported the pro-life campaign, was quick in stating that he
would not stand in the way of Socrates' abortion bill. "Even though the
result is not binding,
it should be respected, in the interests of democracy", he added.
All the Portuguese Episcopal Conference had to say about the
pro-abortion victory was this, made public by spokesman Bishop Carlos
Azevedo: "What happened was that the values defended by the Church are
not very highly esteemed in Portuguese society at present." A major
daily newspaper, the Diario de
Noticias, was more perceptive: "It was a great defeat for the
God's displeasure with the
referendum was made manifest to all. On the morning of the
following day, February 12, an earthquake registering 6.0 on the
Richter scale was felt in Southern
Portugal, where the "Yes" obtained the highest majorities. It was
hardly noticeable in the
Northern districts, where the "No" had won.
WEB MASTER NOTE:
Scroll up to the map of Portugal. The area outlined by electrical
currents represents the pro-abortion votes which were greater than the
pro-life, pro-Catholic natural law. Just above the jolt outline you
will see northern Portugal, the Trasos Montes region, which largely
kept the faith. It was essentially free of jolts and shocks.
Coincidence, I hardly think so.