VIENNA, Austria (LifeSiteNews) — The March for Life in Vienna had over 2,000 participants while leftist politicians joined forces with Antifa in calls for counter-protests and several Austrian politicians reacted to my reporting.
“Thank you for having the courage to be the voice for the silent! You have the right to stand up for the protection of human life. You have the right because it is a biological fact that human life begins with the fusion of egg and sperm. You have the right because it is a legal fact that every human being has dignity and a right to life from that moment on,” lawyer Felix Böllmann from the Christian human rights organization ADF International told the participants.
More than 2,000 people gathered at Karlsplatz in Vienna early in the afternoon on October 14 to show their support for protecting human life, especially the unborn. The sun was out on a beautiful day that felt much more like summer than autumn, with many young adults, families with children, the elderly, and Catholic priests gathered to stand up for the pro-life cause.
“It is important to make it clear that every human being has a right to life … and this does not only concern the life that is already in the world but also the life in the womb,” Larissa Porzelt from the Catholic lay initiative “Maria 1.0” (Mary 1.0) told me during the March.
In Austria, abortion is still criminalized, but during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy or if the unborn child has severe disabilities, doctors and mothers have impunity. There are no official abortion statistics, but according to estimates, around 35,000 children are killed in the womb every year in Austria.
A recently founded pro-abortion initiative called “#AusPrinzip” demands the complete decriminalization of abortion and the coverage of abortion via state-funded social security. The initiative is supported by Susanna Riessland, the head of Amnesty International Austria, and Andreas Babler, the chairman of the Social-Democratic (formally Socialist) Party, among others.
Pink balloons and banners could be seen everywhere at the pro-life event. “Protect children, support women, make abortion obsolete,” one of the large banners read.
Fr. Edmund Waldstein, a Cistercian priest and one of the Catholic clergy at the event, told me that the March for Life is important because “abortion is really the great evil of our times.”
“So many innocent human beings are killed in abortion, and it’s very important that the Church stands for the truth and for justice, and as a sign of that, it’s important that priests also participate in the March for Life as an encouragement to the lay people,” he said.
“Of course, the political realm is primarily the responsibility of the lay people … but it’s important to see that the Church is behind them and that we are not afraid to stand for the truth.”
In the lead-up to the March, Green Party politician Viktoria Spielmann called for protests against the March for Life, sharing the social media accounts of left-wing extremists Antifa groups. The close ideological and personal connection between left-wing politicians and violent extremist groups like Antifa is no secret to insiders, but to make it so blatantly obvious is indeed scandalous.
In a post on X (formerly Twitter), one of the Antifa-affiliated accounts that Spielmann promoted showed a painting of two women stabbing a man to death. The text on the picture read: “Smash Patriarchy! Against the ‘March for Life.’”
“It is a scandal that a politician shows herself with enemies of life and supports a law-breaking protest,” Ludwig Brühl, speaker for the March for Life, said in a statement. “Intimidation against children, families, and the elderly is unacceptable. This must also have political consequences,” he added.
“We need to show the connections between leftist politicians and Antifa,” Brühl told me after the March. “People still think of Antifa as an NGO … and it’s simply not true!”
Some counter-protestors tried to block the March initially, but they were encircled by police, with several left-wing extremists being arrested.
A revealing conversation with a pro-abortion activist
One of the abortion supporters had a “mask off” moment in a conversation we had after the March. When I was interviewing Ludwig Brühl shortly after the event had officially ended, a young woman interrupted us to tell us that “white men” like us should not tell her what to do and explained to us how evil “the patriarchy” is and that we should educate ourselves about “women’s rights.”
Brühl explained to her, in a calm and friendly manner, that abortion stops a beating heart and that science clearly shows that life begins at conception. Seemingly frustrated, she threw her arms in the air and said, “You can say that is a life; I don’t care! If I want to have an abortion, you should not tell me I can’t do it.”
“Pure voluntarism” was the thought that came to my head immediately. “My will be done!”
She was essentially saying: “I want to do what I want, and if that means I have to end an innocent life, so be it.”
She went on to insist that both gender and science are “non-binary” in an attempt to discredit the pro-life arguments.
“You are surely Christians,” she said at one point during the conversation, with a combination of disgust and dismissiveness on her face.
We ended the conversation when it became clear that her only goals were to insult us and vent her frustration.
My reporting went viral and drew condemnation from Austrian politicians
Shortly after the March, I posted a video of the March on X with a German text that read, “Demonstration parade at the March for Life in Vienna. Today a lot of people took to the streets for the protection of life!”
— Andreas Wailzer (@Andreas_Wailzer) October 14, 2023
This mundane post went somewhat viral (achieving over 50,000 views is quite a lot for a small account like mine) and drew primarily negative comments as the pro-abortion crowd came swarming in. The comments underneath the post were mostly insults mixed with some typical pro-abortion talking points. Among the most prominent online warriors who condemned the March were local Green Party politicians Karin Stanger and Meri Disoski.
In my experience, pro-life social media posts in German tend to draw much attention and galvanize the pro-abortion crowd. The pro-life movement in the German-speaking world is not nearly as strong as in the U.S. And it shows, as many people have never heard a solid defense of the pro-life position and resort to ridiculous arguments, like the (often unironic) claim that masturbation is mass murder, failing to differentiate between a sperm cell and a fertilized egg that has a unique human DNA from the moment of conception.
The fact that the March for Life in Vienna drew so much hatred and vitriol should not surprise Christians. As our Lord said:
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
The negative online response also shows that there is still much work to do for the pro-life activists in Europe. The movement, however, as I witnessed again Saturday, is young and full of joy and energy, and with God’s help, anything is possible.