Several thousand people took part on Saturday May 14 in Zagreb in a march against abortion. Two days earlier, Croatia experienced a mobilization of support for Mirela Cavajda, a woman who fought a difficult battle to obtain permission to have an abortion, due to the illness of her fetus.
On placards carried by demonstrators during this seventh annual “march for life”, one could read in particular “Unborn children, the most threatened minority in Croatia” Where “Unborn lives matter too”. Many parents accompanied by their children carrying balloons joined the march, organized by conservative associations.
“We support life, moral values, God-given values”told Agence France-Presse an economist, Maja Ivic, who took to the streets with her two children. “All human life, from conception to natural death, must be protected”, added Sinisa Kubatovic, 52 years old. For him, “abortion should be allowed only if the pregnancy seriously threatens the life of the woman”. “Life is something more precious, life must be respected, life is the law”launched to the crowd Boris Ujevic, gynecologist of a hospital in Zagreb.
Strong influence of the Catholic Church
Thousands of people demonstrated Thursday in Zagreb in favor of women’s right to health. The demonstration, organized under the slogan “Enough”, took place the day after the announcement by the Minister of Health, Vili Beros, that a “commission authorized termination of pregnancy” by Mirela Cavajda.
The mother-of-one was in her sixth month of pregnancy when doctors diagnosed her fetus with a brain tumor in April. Her request for an abortion was refused by four hospitals in Zagreb, but public pressure eventually forced the medical commission to give the go-ahead for the procedure on Wednesday.
On May 12, many protesters carried pink banners that read “Enough of clericalism in gynecological clinics”, “Enough of the refusal to provide a medical procedure” or “Enough of jeopardizing women’s health”. The demonstration was organized in Zagreb and eight other towns in Croatia to show “solidarity with all women (…) whose right to health, guaranteed by the laws in Croatia, is violated daily”had pointed out the organizers.
Right reaffirmed in 2017 by the Constitutional Court
In Croatia, conservative groups, supported by the Catholic Church, are urging the government to limit the right to abortion, authorized until the tenth week of pregnancy. After this period, an abortion can be performed if the health of the woman or the fetus is in serious danger, or in the event of rape or incest.
Nearly 90% of the 3.9 million Croats are Catholic, and the Church remains very influential in society. The right to abortion is increasingly put to the test, because many doctors refuse to perform voluntary terminations of pregnancy on the grounds of conscientious objection.
Croatia’s Constitutional Court in 2017 rejected an appeal by several conservative groups demanding a ban on abortion. It then also considered that the 1978 legislation was obsolete and asked for its revision. Human rights groups fear the changes could lead to more restrictions.