By Jonathon Van Maren
It has been a busy fall for the pro-life movement already, and I’ve been on the road nearly nonstop. I spoke at a fantastic conference for Protect Life Michigan, a pro-life student group, last weekend, and this week I spoke at World Concerns Day in New Brunswick for the Association of Christian Schools International. Next week, I’m speaking at the March for Life in Vienna, Austria, and after that I’ll be in Western Canada for a couple of weeks.
It is not just Austria that is hosting a March for Life this fall–the third national pro-life march in Slovakia on September 22 was massive:
An estimated 50,000 pro-life Slovakians marched in the capitol city, Bratislava, on Sunday. Parliament will take up the issue of further abortion restrictions next month. Several different abortion restrictions have been proposed, including decreasing the abortion limit to six weeks, to eight weeks, to ban it except in cases of rape, or to ban it altogether, without exceptions.
Currently, abortion is legal for any reason up to 12 weeks in Slovakia. Slovakian law, which dates back to the days of Communist rule, also allows abortion up through 24 weeks “on health grounds with the woman’s consent, or at her instigation, if her life or health or the healthy development of the fetus are endangered, or if fetal development manifests genetic anomalies.” Parental consent is required for girls under 16 years old, and parental notification is required after the procedure for girls aged 16-18.
In Northern Ireland as well, pro-lifers continue to push back against what appears to be the inevitable imposition of legal abortion on their country in the coming month. Despite the odds, they are determined to resist until the last minute. From Gript earlier this month:
A pro-life rally in Belfast on Saturday drew such a huge crowd that the police had to ask organisers to re-route the march to accommodate the estimated 20,000 people who attended. The rally, billed as March for Their Lives, was organised by Precious Life and Youth for Life NI to protest the decision by the British parliament in Westminster to impose an abortion law on the North which would allow abortion up to 28 weeks. Tens of thousands of pro-life supporters participated in the event, packing Custom House Square to hear Baroness Nuala O’Loan and other speakers, before setting off on the march which swelled in numbers as it made its was through the city.
“It’s pro-life gridlock in the city centre, there are just so many people here,” said Moira Brennan, a rally steward. “The PSNI have asked us to take a longer route for the march now because the crowd is so big. It’s just brilliant to see all the families and people of all ages and from all communities out in force against this abortion bill”. Precious Life said they were “heartened and encouraged by the turnout, which showed that the pro-life majority of Northern Ireland are fighting back against this undemocratic law. The pro-life majority of Northern Ireland came out in their thousands today to say loud and clear ‘Abortion? Not In Our Name!’”
Pro-abortion activists — 175 of them — were detained at the Swiss March for Life for attacking police on Saturday, injuring at least two officers and some firefighters. The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation reports that the incident occurred during the pro-life March for Life on September 21. The March for Life had received approval from authorities and began with a gathering at Turbinenplatz in Zurich, Switzerland. Within an hour, a peaceful pro-life procession with more than 1,000 participants formed.
According to the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, the counter-demonstration by abortion activists was not authorized and began with a gathering of a few hundred people at a nearby park. Police informed the unauthorized pro-abortion demonstrators that they could not form a procession but that their gathering in the park would be tolerated. Disobeying police instructions, several abortion activists walked to Turbinenplatz. The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation states, “Some of them [abortion activists] pushed prams containing things to throw.” The report continues:
In order to avoid a confrontation between pro- and anti-abortion demonstrators, the police fired rubber bullets and irritants at the unauthorised procession. In return, the police officers faced a volley of bottles, stones and other projectiles. Several small groups also tried to cross police roadblocks. At the same time, people set fire to containers in several places and blocked streets with construction material. Some of the firefighters who came to extinguish the flames were attacked and injured.
Following the violence, police briefly detained 175 abortion activists but only “one was arrested for violence and threatening the authorities.”
As I’ve reported before, pro-abortion violence is becoming all too common. In Mexico City last month, for example, abortion activists actually tried to set fire to the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral. From the National Review on September 26:
In footage of the demonstration posted on social media, protesters can be seen setting the fire outside cathedral as drums and music play in the background. About 1,200 activists joined the march for abortion rights, according to local media.
Catholics gathered in front of the cathedral doors to block the protesters, while firefighters and police worked to prevent further violence and the spread of the fire…Fires were also set at the city’s Chamber of Commerce and at several other buildings and monuments around the city…Activists took to the streets in other cities around Mexico as well over the weekend, in demonstrations designed to advocate for nationwide legalization of abortion. The procedure has been legal in Mexico City since 2007, and the Mexican state of Oaxaca on Wednesday approved a bill to legalize it.
Violent pushback to pro-life activism is common, but rarely reported on—the media doesn’t want to chop a hole in the front of their own canoe, so to speak. The fact is that violence breeds violence, and an ideology that allows for the destruction of inconvenient people unsurprisingly leads to violence against other inconvenient people presenting inconvenient points of view. Despite this, the international pro-life movement continues to grow—and I look forward to meeting the men and women of Pro-Life Europe again next week!