Saturday, May 20, 2017
Croatia: 20,000 Demonstrators Against Abortion
This "March for Life" attracted about 15,000 people in Zagreb according to police and another 5,000, according to local media, in Split, the country's second-largest city on the Adriatic coast.
Last year for its first edition this march was held in Zagreb only.
According to the organizers, the aim is "to draw attention to the respect due to every human life, from conception to natural death".
"Choose Life" or "Life is always a gift", read the banners of the demonstrators. The march participants sang religious tunes and Croatian popular songs, flapping national flags and holding white and blue balloons.
In Zagreb and Split, counter-demonstrators also rallied to protest against the march, calling it a "political gathering".
"La + Marche pour la vie + tramples the rights of women," said a huge banner that these counter-demonstrators had hung on a building in the main square of Zagreb.
The police arrested a dozen feminist activists in Zagreb trying to block the march.
The issue of abortion profoundly divides Croatia, a member of the European Union, where pro-abortion activists denounce the growing pressure of groups supported by the Croatian Catholic Church and the refusal of many doctors in public hospitals to perform abortions.
The existing legislation since 1978, when Croatia was part of Yugoslavia, allows abortion for up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.
In March, the Constitutional Court of Croatia rejected a request, supported by the Catholic Church, to revise the law. However, the Court ordered Parliament to prepare new legislation on abortion within two years, considering that the law in force was outdated.
Nearly 90% of the 4.2 million Croats are Catholic. Human rights associations fear that the law will be called into question.