TALLINN, Estonia, February 26, 2009 ( – In September 2008, the Institute for the Culture of Life, a pro-life group based in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, filed an application to the Chacellor of Justice of the Republic of Estonia, Mr. Indrek Teder, asking him to declare public financing of abortion unconstitutional.

The Government of the Republic of Estonia has for years been paying 70% of the cost of each and every elective abortion, spending well over a million US dollars on abortions every year.

The application rested upon the 2002 decision of the previous Chancellor of Justice, Mr. Allar Jõks, in which he argued that “the right to life enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia protects also the fetus” and the Constitution has to be interpreted as laying down “the objective responsibility of the State to protect unborn life.”

This lead Jõks to conclude that, “Since the right to life of the fetus is protected by the Constitution, termination of pregnancy is in principle forbidden – termination of pregnancy is in conflict with the constitutional right to life and the right to protection against bodily harm.”

Furthermore, the Chancellor added that this “responsibility to protect” is valid also with regard to the mother and thus, in principle, “lays upon her an obligation to give birth to a conceived child.”

Nevertheless, in January the new Chancellor of Justice, Mr Indrek Teder, made public his reply to the application, arguing that there is nothing unconstitutional about public financing of abortion.
Representatives of the Institute for the Culture of Life said they found the decision surprising and highly disappointing. Varro Vooglaid, a lawyer and one of the authors of the application, charged that the Chancellor of Justice simply ignored all of the central arguments of the applicants.

“Our central argument was that as the constitution lays upon the State the obligation to protect the life of unborn human beings, governmental financing of elective abortions cannot possibly be constitutional. If the State has the responsibility to protect the unborn then it cannot finance their intentional killing. Unfortunately the Chancellor of Justice simply ignored the argument altogether as if it had never been presented to him,” says Vooglaid.

“What is the meaning and value of the constitution and fundamental rights, if law enforcement agencies can randomly decide that regardless of the State’s constitutional obligation to protect everyone’s right to life there is nothing unconstitutional about the government’s decision to start financing the intentional killing of thousands of innocent human beings every year?”
In his decision Teder argued that abortion is justified because of the right to free self-realization, which is enshrined in paragraph 19 of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia. He wrote that “there is a hopeless conflict between women’s right to self-determination and fetus’ right to life” and that the conflict is “uncontrollable.” Furthermore, he added, “Every person has the natural right to use his or her body and the State cannot oblige a woman to give birth.” As such he arrived at the view that the right of unborn children is not protected to the same extent as the right of already born human beings.

Vooglaid responded that there are natural limitations on the right to self-realization, observing, “No-one ever has the right to practice self-realization in a way that causes the death of other human beings. It is beyond understanding that in the Chancellor of Justice’s view the someone’s right to free self-realization justifies the intentional killing of innocent children.”

In 2007, 8,883 elective abortions were performed in Estonia – a tiny Eastern-European state with a population of 1.3 million people. Since 1956 when the Soviet Union first legalized killing unborn children in Estonia, it is estimated that more than 1.5 million children have lost their life through abortion in the small country.

To express your concern to the Chancellor of Justice of the Republic of Estonia, write [email protected]
To contact the Culture of Life write, [email protected]

See related coverage:

Constitutionality of Public Financing of Abortion Challenged in Estonia