An Anti-Abortion Movement in Europe?

I guess I thought abortion rights were taken for granted in Europe, or more specifically, in Western Europe. However, I just ran upon an article in conservative evangelical World Magazine called “European War Zone: Belgium Is the Battleground for Life and Freedom, Again.” Here is an excerpt:

When Roosemont isn’t motoring through these [WWI] battlefields he is volunteering in another, going to war against the onslaught of laws in Belgium governing abortion and euthanasia—and a culture of choice that aids and abets them. On a continent whose pro-life movement is just gaining ground, Roosemont has been described as a pro-life veteran.

Belgium has for decades not only legalized abortion but in 2002 also legalized euthanasia.

“Since the law was voted 10 years ago,” says Roosemont, “a black blanket has descended upon Belgium and is suffocating its people. The whole atmosphere has completely changed.”

Thanks to Roosemont and others, another atmosphere is stirring. Pro-life groups are multiplying and annual Marches for Life now take place in Brussels, The Hague, Dublin, and other European cities. Belgium’s third annual march—held this year on March 25—drew 3,500 youth, elderly, and families who took to the streets then laid 1,000 white roses on the steps of the Palais de Justice.

So I did some digging and found this from last January: Europe’s Top Courts are on a Pro-Life Role, in evangelical magazine Christianity Today:

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) upheld Austria’s ban on in-vitro fertilization in November. Weeks earlier, the European Court of Justice ruled against destroying human embryos for scientific research. In December 2010, the ECHR upheld Ireland’s abortion ban.

“It’s definitely a trend,” said Roger Kiska of the Alliance Defense Fund in Slovakia. “Two or three years ago, you never would have thought that within a year you would have three pro-life [victories] in the courts.”

The cases coming from the ECHR—Europe’s equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court—show judicial restraint, deciding simply that abortion is not a right and leaving its legality up to each of the Council of Europe’s 47 member states, Kiska said. But the Court of Justice’s ruling went a step further, ruling that embryos are human beings.

This stand was both strong and surprising, he said. “It’s the first international court decision to say that life begins at conception.”

And this from six months ago: Eastern Europe Sees Growing Pro-Life Effort against Abortion,  on LifeNews.com

When asked what country should be watched for upcoming pro-life initiatives, [Joseph] Meaney [director of international coordination at Human Life International] replied that pro-lifers should look towards Russia.

“The Russian presidency and the parliament are both interested in finding concrete solutions to limiting abortion,” Meaney told Celtic Connections. “They’ve already started with a number of measures this year, particularly making it illegal to describe abortion as a ‘safe medical procedure,’ and requiring those who advertise for abortion to talk about the health risks associated with it. But I think they’re going to move even more in the direction of outright banning of abortions for all kinds of different reasons.”

[That] same weekend…, the Russian parliament voted to restrict abortions in the country beyond the 12th week of pregnancy. The new measure also imposes a mandatory waiting period of between two and seven days before having an abortion.

And from last January: Two Cheers for Pro-Life Europe, on The Catholic Thing

Most Americans, particularly political conservatives, would be shocked to learn that pagan Europe is often better than Christian America on the life issues. We typically think Europe is exponentially further out on the pelvic left. On some issues – like homosexual marriage – they are. But on the life issues, not so much.

Two European countries, Malta and Ireland, outlaw abortion outright. In countries where abortion is legal, they have gestational limits on abortion that would give Leroy Carhart an aneurism. European gestational limits would put Carhart’s partial-birth abortion practice into immediate receivership.

From last month: Launch of Pro-life European Citizen’s Initiative in Brussels, on Vatican Radio

A European Citizens’ Initiative on ‘protecting the right to life’ was scheduled to be introduced Thursday afternoon in Brussels. A new procedure introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon, the European citizens’ initiative allows one million EU citizens to participate directly in the development of EU policies. By law, the European Commission must respond to the proposal.

The launch of the Initiative is the final event of a “Week for Life” organized by Pro-life Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), in collaboration with the Commission of the Bishops Conferences of the European Community, or COMECE.

And then there’s also a list of anti-abortion groups in Europe.

So it isn’t just the U.S. that has an anti-abortion movement. I mean I guess that should have been obvious, there are Catholics in Europe and we live in a global world, but still, I was surprised by how much I found with a little digging. And as someone who is pro-choice, this is one area I would have liked to have thought the U.S. was exceptional in. I guess not. Or am I missing something?

I know a number of my readers live in Europe. Do you have anything to add on this?

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


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