By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

  PRAGUE, April 1, 2008 ( – About 300 people marked the International Day of the Unborn Child in Wenceslas Square in the centre of Prague with a peaceful protest against abortion.

“Free choice ends where new life starts,” read a poster the protestors carried.

  Zdenka Rybova, president of the Movement for Life, the nation’s largest pro-life group, said her organization is working with the pro-life Christian Democrat Party (KDU-CSL), which is a minority party in the country’s coalition government. She hopes to change the Czech criminal code’s legal definition of abortion to the “killing of a conceived, yet unborn, child.”

“Changing the law won’t solve the problem, but it will help,” she said.

  In spite of very liberal abortion legislation, the number of abortions in the Czech Republic has been constantly dropping since the collapse of the communist regime in November 1989.

  In 1970 almost 148,000 children were born and 72,000 abortions were performed. Last year over 114,000 children were born and 25,414 unborn children were killed by abortion.

  While abortion rates falling by almost two thirds may seem laudable, availability and use of hormonal contraceptives and intrauterine devices is growing rapidly according to the Czech News Agency (CTK).

“The reason for high abortions during communist times is that contraception was not available, and the abortion law was very permissive,” said Radim Uzel, executive director of the pro abortion Czech Family Planning Association. However, in many nations increased contraceptive use has led to more abortions in response to unwanted pregnancies resulting from increased sexual activity and contraceptive failures. It therefore remains to be seen if the Czech abortion rate will rise again or if the Czechs will become so efficient at avoiding conception as to contracept themselves out of existence.

“In 1988, 493,863 forms of the intrauterine device (IUD) and hormonal contraceptives were distributed in Czechoslovakia. In 2000, more than 1 million such devices and drug doses were distributed in the Czech Republic and the number grows yearly,” Uzel said.

  Most Czechs, or 71 percent, are against any restrictions on abortion, according to a poll conducted by the GfK Praha agency for the daily Mlada fronta Dnes. The poll also revealed that nearly 40 percent of the Czech population identifies itself as atheist, slightly outnumbering Catholics.

  The Czech government is currently considering legislation that would enable single women to undergo artificial fertilization, homosexuals to adopt their partners’ children, and a penal bill that would eliminate the threat of prosecution for personal drug use.

  A report by the Czech News Agency says, “Such proposals will probably be sharply opposed by Christian politicians and other conservative groups defending the traditional family values.”