Some 5,000 people joined in the March for Life through the centre of Prague on Saturday. The demonstrators held up banners reading Children Bring Hope and Scrap the abortion law. The march was attended among others by Cardinal Dominik Duka and a number of Roman Catholic priests. As the demonstrators made their way through Prague they passed several groups of activists who came out to voice support for the right to abortion. Police was out in force to regulate traffic and prevent skirmishes. No incidents were reported. The number of abortions in the Czech Republic has been steadily decreasing. In 2016 doctors performed over 20,000 abortions.
Cardinal Dominik Duka has said that abortions are a worse evil than the terrorist attacks Europe experienced in recent weeks. In a text published on the news site aktuaulne.cz the cardinal says that while people are horrified by the deaths of hundreds of civilians in terrorist attacks, they forget about the thousands of unborn children killed by abortions. He says that while he sympathizes with pregnant women in difficult circumstances, this does not give them the right to abort the child they are carrying. In an online poll conducted by novinky.cz close to 90 percent of readers disagree with the cardinal.
The Czech Women’s Lobby has appealed to Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlova for her government to desist from its plan to support a total ban on abortions. In an open letter to the Polish prime minister the Czech Women’s Lobby points out that this would present a significant health risk for Polish women. They further argue the right to abortion is a woman’s fundamental right. Thousands of Poles took to the streets on Sunday to protest against a possible tightening of the law, already one of the most restrictive in Europe. Critics say a total ban would only lead to women dying in illegal abortions and fuel abortion tourism.
Over 4,000 people took part in the 16th annual demonstration against abortion, the so-called March for Life, in Prague on Saturday. The event was organised by the Movement for Life of the Czech Republic. The participants marched through the centre of Prague to Wenceslas Square, where they were met by Prague Archbishop, Cardinal Dominik Duka and the bishop of Pilsen František Radkovský. The number of pregnancies terminated in the Czech Republic has fallen significantly; while almost 150,000 abortions were carried out in 1970, last year that figure was down to 21,000.
Last year doctors performed around 23,000 surgical abortions in the Czech Republic, a fifth of them for health reasons. Now women who decide to end their pregnancy in its early stages have the option of using the newly available abortion pill RU 486. While many women welcome the chance to replace surgical abortion with a less invasive method of inducing miscarriage, critics and pro-life activists are vehemently protesting the pill’s registration.
A leading Czech scientist has created uproar with an article in a journal suggesting that pregnant mothers who expected their babies would have severe disabilities should undergo abortions. Miroslav Mitlöhner has in the aftermath of the article resigned as director of a university institution and member of an advisory council at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Mitlöhner in an interview said afterwards that some of the comments attributed to him were quotations from other authors but stood by the overall contents of his article.
Czech pharmacies on Monday begin selling the controversial abortion pill RU-486 which has been approved for terminating pregnancies of up to seven weeks. Some gynaecologists argue the drug is safer for women than surgical abortion. But its opponents believe it could encourage irresponsible sexual behaviour – and that administering it actually breaches the law.
The proposed reform of the country’s health care system will allow foreign women to undergo abortions in the Czech Republic. The Czech Health Ministry says current abortion legislation, approved in 1986, is in breach of EU regulations, the ministry said. A similar measure was included in the previous draft of health care reform, and was one of the reasons why it was rejected by the Czech Parliament. The ministry would like the lower house vote on the current proposal by the end of June.
Some 1,000 anti-abortion activists marched through the centre of Prague on Saturday. The march, organized by a pro-life Czech association, was preceded by a Roman Catholic mass one of the city’s churches, celebrated by the Archbishop of Prague, Dominik Duka. Organizers said 25,000 abortions were carried out in the Czech Republic last year, while more 3.3 than million children were not born since 1957 when abortions were legalized in the country.
The number of women undergoing abortions in the Czech Republic rose last year. The Institute of Health Information and Statistics said 2008’s total climbed to 41,446 cases compared with 40,917 a year earlier. This translates into 16.35 abortions per 1,000 women of child bearing age. The institute said the slight rise in abortions was partly explained by the trend of women postponing childbirth till later in life when the risks are higher. Even so, the number of abortions has fallen to a quarter of the level it was in the early 1990’s. That is largely thanks to the greater availability of the birth control pill.