Anti-abortion and pro-choice groups clash in Prague

The anti-abortion protesters held an annual march across Prague, while pro-choice groups briefly blocked their way and held a separate rally.


Written by ČTK Published on 02.05.2022 09:49:00 (updated on 02.05.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

The National March For Life, an annual event held by opponents of abortion, marched across Prague on Saturday after a two-year pause caused by the coronavirus pandemic, while another group of demonstrators promoted women's right to abortion.

The two demonstrating groups met near Mánes Bridge, where the participants had verbal exchanges. Those defending the right to abortion briefly blocked the opponents' way, but without the police having to intervene.

Photo: Zewlakk (Facebook)
Groups meet near Mánes Bridge. Photo: Zewlakk, Facebook.

In 2020, the last year for which the relevant data are available, women in Czechia underwent about 16,900 abortions. Their number has been steadily declining; in 2010, for instance, it was almost 24,000.

Photo: Zewlakk (Facebook)
March for Life. Photo: Zewlakk, Facebook.

The participants of the march organized by the Movement for Life group, who waved Czech flags and banners with slogans such as 'A Child is Hope,' were mainly families and seniors, but also included several priests and nuns. Children walked at the front of the crowd.

At a separate event in front of the Rudolfinum, participants voiced disagreement with the March for Life and showed support for women's right to choose. These demonstrators included Deputy PM and Pirate Party chairman Ivan Bartoš.

Ivan Bartoš, one of the leaders of Česká pirátská strana (the Czech Pirate Party), attending the pro-choice rally. Photo: Zewlakk (Facebook)
Czech Pirate Party) Ivan Bartoš attending the pro-choice rally. Photo: Zewlakk, Facebook.

When Roman Catholic Cardinal Dominik Duka was celebrating mass, several activists unfolded banners in front of the altar. One of them held a 'Her Body Her Choice' poster and another one brought attention to the case of two Polish young women Izabela and Agnieszka, who died after doctors refused to perform an abortion.

Photo: Zewlakk (Facebook)
Pro-choice supporters with banners at a Catholic mass. Photo: Zewlakk, Facebook.

After being escorted by the organizers from the cathedral, the activists continued their protest outside.

Photo: Zewlakk (Facebook)
Photo: Zewlakk (Facebook)

Johanna Nejedlová, one of the co-founders of the non-profit organization Konsent and a member of the Executive Committee of the Czech Women's Lobby, spoke at the My Body My Choice event in front of the Rudolfinum. 

She discussed the issue of foreign interference in the financing of anti-abortion organizations in the EU that undermine sexual and reproductive health and the rights of women. More than €700 million went to conservative groups in the EU, such as anti-abortion groups, between 2009 and 2018 – about €80 million from the US and €180 million from Russia, she said.

Nejedlová also tweeted that despite Czech media reporting that the pro-choice groups blocked the movement and the police had to intervene to prevent escalation, the blocking of the march was merely symbolic. 

"Together with a couple of people we stopped the march yesterday and stepped back after about 4 minutes because we believe that the NML (National March for Life) also has the right to express its opinion at the rally. The news reported a cordon of people dispersed by riot police – in my opinion, the photo looks like we are flirting with the police."  

The Movement for Life in early February protested on social networks against the activity of Czechs who organized a supply of medicine to end unwanted pregnancies in women raped amid the Russian military aggression in Ukraine. Later, nevertheless, the Movement deleted its online posting.

Archbishop Cardinal Duka commented on the issue on his blog recently. He rejected the brutality of rape but said the soldiers, too, are the victims of the strongest emotions and passions. He rejected the idea of offering abortion pills to raped women. As a solution, he mentioned the chance to put an unwanted child in a baby box.

Duka also mentioned the situation in Ukraine in his sermon. Once again he spoke about the Slovak martyr Anna Kolesárová, who in 1944 preferred being shot dead to being raped by the Red Army soldiers. "I do not advise anyone to let themselves be shot dead or hanged," he said.

Photo: Zewlakk (Facebook)
Roman Catholic Cardinal Dominik Duka. Photo: Zewlakk, Facebook.

The biggest barbarism is to commit violence on the innocent such as yet unborn children, he said, adding that not only the faith but also science and medicine teach that human life arises at the moment of conception.

Movement for Life head Radim Ucháč also said the march should highlight the fact that 4,300 children, who were conceived as the third offspring in their families, are annually not born because the family already has two children. Women with two children and a partner dominate among those having an abortion, he said.

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