By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent

BRASILIA, October 14, 2010 ( – Dilma Rousseff, the current frontrunner in Brazil's presidential elections, was regarded as a shoe-in by political pundits only two weeks ago.  As the handpicked successor of the most popular president in the world, Luiz Lula da Silva, Rousseff's victory was all but written in stone.

However, following her surprise upset in the first round of voting on October 3, Rousseff now finds herself locked in an increasingly difficult battle against a rising tide of pro-life and pro-family sentiment in the country, which sees Rousseff and her Labor Party as the main proponent for such controversial measures as the decriminalization of abortion and homosexual “marriage.”  It is becoming increasingly evident that if Rousseff is not able to jettison her pro-abortion image, she may lose the presidency over the issue.

Rousseff's first round loss was widely attributed to a campaign waged over the internet by Evangelical Protestants and Catholics to urge voters to vote against Rousseff and the Labor Party because of its abortionist and homosexualist ideology.  Following the campaign, which included the video of a sermon seen by four million Brazilians on YouTube, Rousseff lost the majority of votes she needed by three percentage points, garnering only 47% of the vote.

Now, as more Catholic bishops and priests have added their voices to the chorus denouncing Rousseff, she is finding her lead over her rival José Serra slipping.  Recent polls have shown that Rousseff's lead of 13% over Social Democrat José Serra during the first round of votes has fallen five percentage points.  Rousseff is now beating Serra by only 54% to 46%, placing Serra increasingly within striking distance of victory in the elections on October 31.

In the days following the upset, an increasing number of Catholic bishops and priests have added their voices to the chorus condemning Dilma, including Aldo di Cillo Pagotto, Archbishop of the city of Paraíba, who recently issued a YouTube video of himself denouncing the Labor Party for dishonest tactics and for working with international organizations to implement an abortionist agenda in Brazil.

The position taken against Rousseff and the Labor Party by pro-life forces in Brazil is bolstered by recent polls, which indicate that the vast majority of Brazilians are against the further decriminalization of abortion in Brazil.  One poll just taken by the Datafollha agency found that 71% of Brazilians wanted no change in the existing law, which withholds criminal penalties for abortions only in cases of rape, or danger to the life of the mother.

In response to the pressure, Rousseff has begun to backpedal from her own previously stated position on the issue, also held in general by the Labor Party, in favor of the decriminalization of abortion.  In recent debates held against Serra, she has reportedly stated her opposition to decriminalization, as has Serra himself. However, Rousseff has made it clear that she opposes prosecuting women who come to hospitals for help after inducing an abortion.

Now, Rousseff is also reportedly preparing a written rebuttal to the attacks against her, and has also obtained a commitment to do the same by her allies among Evangelical protestants, who have formed a significant segment of the coalition that brought the Labor Party to power in 1993.  That coalition is now threatened by the rift among Evangelicals over the abortion issue, as well as the Labor Party's promotion of the homosexual political agenda.

However, Rousseff's attempt to redefine herself as a pro-life candidate may be too late to protect her from the consequences of years of pro-abortion activism by the Labor Party.

Roseann Kennedy, a commentator for the CBN radio network, notes in a recent column that Rousseff and her partisans have ceased to use the word “abortion” altogether, and are confining themselves to general statements about the value of life, precisely because if they speak they “run the risk of leaving the campaign of their candidate Dilma [Rousseff] even more entangled in contradictions, because the resolutions of the [Labor Party] make clear their position in favor of the practice of abortion.”

Previous LifeSiteNews coverage:

YouTube Censors Pro-Life Sermon Seen by Millions of Brazilians

Brazilian Government Threatens Catholic Church over Opposition to Pro-Abort Presidential Candidate

Brazilian Presidential Front Runner Declares Herself 'Personally Against' Abortion

Brazilian Pastor Threatened by Government for Opposing Pro-Abortion Policies