Slovakian Catholic bishops and leading pro-life group organise 50,000-strong march to end abortion
The march was organised by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia and non-governmental organisation, Kanet. The event was heavily promoted in churches around the country ensuring a massive turnout. Organisers stated that they were marching with the aim of achieving ‘societal and legislative protection of the life of every human from conception until natural death’.
The event manifesto called for public officials to abolish any law which permits abortion in Slovakia, and to actively support and invest in institutions which help families in need, pregnant mothers and their children.
Event organisers said: “We want freedom for unborn children to be able to be born and live free human lives. The life of every human is invaluable and therefore it needs to be protected from conception to natural death.”
In Slovakia, abortion is legal until the 12th week of pregnancy and is also permitted at any stage of pregnancy if the mother’s life is endangered.
There are currently four proposals in the Slovakian Parliament which seek to amend the existing law on abortion. They include two bills, one which would reduce the existing abortion time limit to eight weeks, and the other to six weeks. There is also an amendment to prohibit all abortion ‘without serious reason’, and a proposal which would allow a woman to take sick leave from work from the 21st week of pregnancy in order to give birth in secret and place the child for adoption.
The growing movement
The event marked the third national pro-life march in Slovakia. The country’s first national march which was held in 2013 saw 80,000 Slovaks in attendance, with another estimated turnout of 80,000 two years later at the 2015 march. The attendance has been described as ‘massive by Slovak standards’, as the country has a current population of just over 5 million.
The event concluded with the unveiling of a memorial plaque to commemorate the 1.4 million people "who were not allowed to be born" because of the 60 years of legalised abortions in the state (then Czechoslovakia). Slovakia’s abortion numbers have continued to decline in recent years and are now only half that found in Scotland which has a similar population.
John Smeaton, SPUC’s chief executive, commented: “This is not just massive by Slovak standards, it’s massive by world standards given the population of Slovakia. The equivalent percentage turn-out in the US would result in a pro-life march of over 3 million people. Thank God for the leadership of Slovakia’s Catholic bishops. Their example shows what the pro-life movement can achieve when church leaders lend strong, unambiguous support for legislation banning the killing of unborn children.”