VILNIUS, June 3, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Citing concerns about the below-replacement fertility rate, the Lithuanian national parliament has voted 46 to 19 in favor of a bill that would restrict abortion to cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother. There are conflicting reports about whether the bill includes an exception for the “health” of the mother.
The bill will now go back to committee before being brought back for a second vote.
At the moment, the Communist-era law allows unrestricted abortion on demand up to 12 weeks gestation, a situation that has allowed this country of only 3.5 million to have about 10,000 abortions a year.
Lithuania has followed the pattern of the rest of Western Europe with low birth rates and aging population, while continuing to maintain generous cradle-to-grave social services. The total fertility rate in the country is 1.28 children born per woman, one of the lowest in the world and down from 1.4 in 2000. The average life expectancy at birth is 75.8 years and the median age of women is currently 43 years.
Zbignev Jedinskij, an MP from the LLRA Polish minority party hailed the vote, saying it had “shown that lawmakers are open to a debate on this matter which is important for society”.
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Lithuania’s Russian Orthodox leaders organised the third annual March for Life in the capital of Vilnius on June 1st, International Children’s Day.
Orthodox youth coordinator Irina Jektorova told local media that the march is intended to remind the country of the “rights of those eliminated in their mothers’ womb.” The march drew participants from the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches and this year involved the Catholic Archdiocese of Vilnius Youth Center and the National Association for Families and Parents.
Jektorova told the Christian newspaper Bernardinai.lt that people from all Christian denominations, as well as non-believers, people who care about the family and who are aware of the importance of unborn life, were all invited. Lithuanians are 79 percent Catholic and about 4.1 per cent Russian Orthodox.