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More than 15,000 people joined the first pro-life National March for Life in Zagreb, Croatia, in 2016.
Maria Dalgarno

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Croatian court takes 26 years to decide abortion should remain legal

Maria Dalgarno

March 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — After 26 long years, a Croatian court rejected a 1991 complaint that the country's 1979 abortion law be declared unconstitutional.

The request issued by the Croatian Movement for Life and Family was defeated in a 12-1 vote by Croatia's Constitutional Court on February 21. 

"The judges asserted that the right to privacy overrides the right to life," Dr. Stephen Bartulica, a professor of political philosophy at the Catholic university in Zagreb, told LiteSiteNews. "They claim that the legislative branch has the right to determine when human life begins. Tragic." 

Miroslav Separovic, president of the Court, said, “This Court’s ruling dismissed the proposal to declare the existing law on abortion as unconstitutional. Parliament has been instructed to adopt a new law on abortion in the next two years and cannot ban pregnancy termination (abortion). Should Parliament disregard this decision, it would assume the political responsibility for causing a constitutional crisis. After the court’s ruling, room for a possible referendum on the matter has been very much narrowed.”

To understand why it took so long to hand down a decision is to recognize the indoctrination and formation of thought that took place while Croatia was under Communist rule.

Dr. Bartulica explained that under communism a society is created where the rule of law means nothing and only raw power is exercised by men. He noted that so many judges and citizens grew up with Communism that natural law principles and basic principles of justice mean nothing.

“This is why the deeply flawed decision is not a surprise,” he said. “Being ruled and indoctrinated into communism leads to the incapacity in many cases to even attain coherent legal thinking. The legacy of communism is devastating!”

Croatia declared independence from Communist Yugoslavia in 1991 and then a four-year war with Serbia began that left a trail of death, horror, destruction and poverty. In its aftermath, the people were trying to survive and paid little attention to laws on abortion, which was prevalent under Communist rule.

In 1995, there were 14,282 abortions recorded in the country. The number of abortion has dramatically dropped to 2,992 in 2015. But like many European countries, Croatia's population is stunted by families choosing to have only one or two children.

Despite the recent court ruling on abortion, some Croatian politicians are bringing renewed hope to the pro-life and pro-family movement.    

Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier made it clear that Croatia will continue to defend the traditional family in spite of leftist media counterattacks which claimed “hysteria in Catholic Croatia.”     

Ladislav Ilcic, who was an adviser to Croatia's foreign minister and is a fierce defender of parental rights, has successfully fought against imposed sex-education in primary schools. Recently, he resigned from his position to run for Mayor of Varazdin as an authentic Catholic under his own party called HRAST, which stands for authentic Catholic-Christian principles. He is running against a candidate from the HDZ party (the present governing party), which, according to those close to it, is not serious about defending Catholic principles.

Meanwhile, there are other Catholic politicians such as Federal Health Minister Milan Kujundzic who says he is opposed to people praying outside hospitals and asks them to move to chapels. Croatian EU development minister Neven Mimica is working to promote abortion in the developing world.

Pro-lifers remain hopeful that the culture will change. Mate Uzinic, the Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Dubrovnik, has spoken out strongly in public that abortion is not a question to be decided through a referendum. He said he has met many women who regret having an abortion "but not one single mother who regrets having had the child."

There is a 40 Days for Life petition in response to the Constitutional Court’s decision at www.prolife.hr

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