The rise of Albania’s pro-life movement

On June 1, hundreds of pro-lifers marched to Skanderbeg Square in Tirana, Albania, in the country’s first significant anti-abortion march.

Dr. Majlinda Gjoni Thompson, a physician who works with Human Life International, was one of the key organizers, and is working at the herculean task of pushing back against a government plan to further legalize not only abortion, but other attacks on the family as well. It is an uphill battle, but raising awareness is key – many ordinary people oppose these policies but are afraid to speak out. 

Thompson explained that a key reason the Albanian government is so keen to pass a raft of anti-life and anti-family policies is because they are working towards E.U. accession. The E.U. consistently punishes countries with pro-life and pro-family regimes, as we have seen time and again with countries like Hungary and, previously, with Poland. Loosening abortion restrictions and working towards the legalization of same-sex “marriage” is thus seen as a way of ingratiating Albania to the E.U. top brass.

Thompson spoke with us about the situation in Albania.

What is the situation regarding abortion in Albania? 

Abortion was legalized for the first time on December 7, 1995, after the fall of communism. Since then, abortions have been performed legally up to 12 weeks without any reason (or up to birth in cases of disability). Meanwhile, there’s no doubt that many abortions have happened after this legal time limit in private clinics.

The government has recently put forward a series of “project laws,” including one that would raise the abortion limit from 12 to 14 weeks. This change will clearly lead to more abortions in general and more abortions on the grounds of sex selection which, for 30 years, has been a big problem in Albania, leading to an increasing gender imbalance (currently 112 boys/100 girls) in the population. It has recently been estimated that, since 1995, around 33,000 girls may have been aborted… There was one recent case in the media in which one mother had aborted eight girls in order to have one male child.

The new law would limit abortion of disabled babies to 22 weeks. The proposed law would also permit 16-year-old girls to have abortions without parental consent. The proposed law removes the two weeks counseling period that women currently have to go through. The new law would allow an abortion to be performed immediately after a girl/woman goes to visit a doctor without it being necessary to have counseling. 

Official statistics here show that there are currently only 220 abortions per 1,000 births, but this doesn’t take into account private abortion clinics. Only government hospitals/clinics officially declare the abortions being performed, and this is made public. We have a birth rate index of 1.4 children per mother, and this proposed law change will put under severe pressure the existence of Albanian society as a whole. The population has reduced from 3 million to under 1.7 million in one decade. As well as abortion, emigration has had its own negative effect on population too.

Inside of this project law, the government also plans to introduce surrogacy. This act attacks the dignity of the mother and the child and destroys the sublime concept of the mother and transforms the meaning of family, corrupting human nature, and moving us closer to dangerous concepts like “parent 1/parent 2.” People without Albanian nationality will be able to come to Albania (single persons, homosexuals, etc.) to order/request children if this law gets approved. 

The change of these laws (which are not permitted in most countries around the world) will transform Albania into a center of human trafficking at the service of the mafia, inside and outside of Albania. To be honest, sadly surrogacy services already happen here, but this will legalize it. 

This project law will permit sterilization for 18-year-old girls and 23-year-old boys. 

Source: Dr. Majlinda Gjoni Thompson

When did the Albanian pro-life movement begin? 

On June 28, 2010. In general, we follow the method and practice of The Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, founded by Monsignor Phillip Reilly and Human Life International. This Friday, the movement for life here celebrates 14 years and we have invited the apostolic nuncio to Albania, His Excellency Luigi Bonazzi, to offer one hour of thankful adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and to celebrate Mass.

What are some of the obstacles the Albanian pro-life movement faces? 

One obstacle is general public apathy and not finding more interest or involvement in the movement. It is difficult to get other people involved. The government’s proposals are now specifically anti-life/anti-family and, as Albania moves closer to European Union integration, huge funding and support from outside organisations is encouraging such laws. In this critical moment for the Albanian population, the government is attacking all the more life and the family.  The Catholic Church here, although strong and respected, keeps largely silent on pro-life issues and is not an active presence. 

Source: Dr. Majlinda Gjoni Thompson

Why is the pro-life movement growing so rapidly? 

The proposed law changes have alerted people to the threats on life and family. In June 2021, an Albanian Coalition for Life and Family was formed, led by Protestant pastor Akil Pano and his wife Linda. The core group consists of Protestants, Catholics, and Muslims and other religions, and we have recently held a series of pro-life/pro-family marches and demonstrations in various cities in Albania (Tirana, Durres, and Kamza so far).

The Coalition has also created a petition to collect signatures that oppose these law changes. Some online petitions were started, but on two separate occasions they were canceled/stopped by the online providers being used. Now we are just using paper petitions. 

What are key areas of focus for the Albanian pro-life movement? 

The current focus is these pro-life/pro-family marches in different cities. This has also involved a series of media interviews and media coverage of the marches, explaining our concerns and raising awareness of what sort of danger we are facing. We continue to have monthly pro-life vigils and processions (starting with Mass and adoration) in a Catholic church in Tirana. 

The first ever pro-life march in Albania took place on June 1, 2024, which is our national day for children. The aim was to give our government and politicians a clear message of opposition to the proposed changes that our families, children, culture, and society should not be touched. The message was that the family is sacred, that the unborn need protection, children need protection, and the elderly people in our nation need protection. 

Source: Dr. Majlinda Gjoni Thompson

What should the international pro-life movement know about what is going on in Albania? 

The Albanian family is under attack on many different fronts. Like I mentioned above, the birth rate is currently only 1.4 children per woman. We have government project laws that will raise up the abortion limit, introduce surrogacy, the sterilization of youth, abortion for teens without parental consent, etc.

In this recent period of time, other proposed law changes include “gender identity” changes (this would allow someone to change their identity in the civil office with a simple request; if the person desired to change their mind, the process to overturn the decision would take many years in court) and gay “marriage” (which is currently not permitted here). 

Another aspect of which it is worth being aware is that the current government aims to approve same-sex “marriage” here by 2028 and this would help smooth Albania’s accession into the European Union. Pro-life/pro-family Albanians don’t want to destroy our healthy families, the families of our children and our culture, to enter in the E.U. 

There is much apathy from the public. This has been visible at some of the marches. Many people are privately against such law changes but fear publicly expressing views that would go against the government’s. Some have expressed fear of losing their jobs… if they had jobs for the state. 

George Soros, together with his son Alexander, have much influence on the government here, and they are trying to attack our families, our children, our culture and society, and we seek support against their evil agenda and massive influence.

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