May 17, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – There has been a great deal of discussion about Hungary’s “Easter Constitution;” so nicknamed not only because it passed with a grand majority on this past Easter Monday, April 25th, but also because it may represent a resurrection of values that many thought had all but disappeared from the laws of Europe.
We have to understand the importance of this document, and why so many in Europe are in a panic over its passage. It is a surprising step in a very good direction, representing another step in what many believe is a long and uneven journey back to Hungary’s, and Europe’s, roots. Clearly, however, it marks a departure from the secular liberal ideology that, like a heavy leaden cape, seems to be darkening and weighing down so much of the contemporary world.
The preamble of the constitution starts with the first line of the Hungarian national anthem, “O Lord, blessed be the Hungarian nation,” recalling the Christian roots of this nation. It continues to emphasize this theme, stating the unique role played by King St. Stephen in establishing Hungary and acknowledging the role that Christianity has played in her preservation. It is also very interesting to see how this constitution ends, “We, Members of Parliament elected on 25 April 2010, being aware of our responsibility before Man and God and availing ourselves of our power to adopt a constitution, have hereby determined, the first unified Fundamental Law of Hungary as above.”
Would that more contemporary legislators would admit that they have a responsibility towards God!
The most important innovations of this constitution, however, are found in Article 2, which establishes that “the life of the foetus shall be protected from the moment of conception.” This document in the following article III n. 3 also expressly prohibits eugenic practices, as well as the use of the human body or its parts for financial gain and human cloning.
The logical consequence of art 2, is that abortion and other crimes against life would at some point be declared illegal and criminalized after this constitution enters into force on January 1st 2012. As this constitution establishes, the government shall submit to the parliament the acts necessary for the implementation of this new fundamental law.
As if to emphasize their seriousness about their newly rediscovered respect for human life at all its stages, the government is already conducting a very effective anti-abortion advertising campaign. Granted, this campaign is born more of a need to reverse Hungary’s demographic collapse, but it is good to see sanity beginning to regain a footing in Eastern Europe.
The question that many are asking is whether the government will have the courage to follow through and penalize the crime of abortion. They are already being attacked savagely by pro-aborts in the EU and elsewhere, and are being pressured to reverse the pro-life provisions or mitigate them with other tactics.
Some Christian Democrats, who were very much responsible for the inclusion of this article in the constitution, have declared as Dr. Imre Téglásy HLI affiliate reported to us, that they are not ready to press for the criminalization of abortion:
“This is the theoretical declaration that we are committed to, and it is supported by the earlier decision of the Constitutional Court as well. At the same time we are aware of the fact that we cannot impose such a law on society, since it wouldn’t be accepted by the great majority of it. So it is our aim now to convince people more and more that human life should be protected from the moment of conception. Our standpoint is that this theoretical declaration should be included clearly in the constitution, and the act itself can come to have a reality once the opinion of the majority of society changes regarding this topic.”
The attempts to revive pro-life laws in Hungary have been going on for some time. The Constitutional Court of Hungary declared in 2000, after different pro-lifers including HLI challenged the validity of the abortion law, that indeed it was unconstitutionally broad and the procedure should be more restricted. After this decision, the parliament made certain cosmetic changes, but these were largely ineffective.
To be sure, the Easter Constitution may be challenged at the European Court of Human Rights, as Poland’s anti-abortion law has been.
And in an attempt to avoid the disastrous confusion over the nature of marriage that has overtaken the West, the new Constitution defines the family as being “understood to be the conjugal union of a man and a woman based on their independent consent; Hungary shall also protect the institution of the family, which it recognises as the basis for the survival of the nation.”
In the document’s discussion of human rights, no mention is made of sexual orientation, so there are no constitutional grounds to grant special treatment to homosexuals nor to recognize the unions between persons of the same sex.
This constitution also encourages generosity with life. First, there is a refreshing provision that would allow parents to vote on behalf of their underage children. The right of one minor per parent to “vote” shall be exercised by his or her mother or other legal representative. In this way, those who are having children have a greater say in Hungary’s elections than those who are not. Second, the constitution establishes that parents’ tax contributions shall be determined in part by their expenses in raising children, giving parents with young children a very sorely needed tax break.
There are other important provisions in the new Constitution. One establishes the separation of Church and State, but not an absolute wall of separation. Instead, it states that: “For the attainment of community goals, the State shall cooperate with the churches.”
Others promise greater economic freedom, such as the provision that Hungary’s economy shall be based upon work which creates value, and upon freedom of enterprise. At a time when so many countries are creating enormous budget deficits, we should praise Hungary’s commitment to a balanced, transparent and sustainable management of their budget.
HLI’s affiliate in Hungary, Dr. Imre Téglásy, played an important role in the adoption of this constitution through his political connections and his tireless efforts to shape public opinion and mobilize support. As the father of ten children, he is already living the values he promotes. And fortitude is a Téglásy family trait: Dr. Téglásy’s father helped lead the resistance to the Russians and the Communists in his region during the 1956 Hungarian Uprising. He was almost killed and later paid a steep price at the hands of the public authorities for standing up for freedom and human rights. This is the battle his son, our collaborator, continues today in his defense of life and family.
None of this is to say that the Easter Constitution is perfect. For example, it would benefit from greater precision in certain sections. And a close analysis will find some articles that are still rife with liberal ideology, but the limitations from which this document suffers do not detract from the great fact that this constitution is an important and courageous step in the right direction. Key is the government’s determination to implement effective protection of life and family, and to continue move towards rebuilding a society that is inspired by its best Christian traditions.
May Hungary’s new Easter Constitution truly represent a resurrection of this magnificent country that has suffered so much during her history.