Between August and October 2012 the small Baltic country of Latvia has been the place of a creative and effective Pro-Life campaign aimed at reopening the public debate over abortion, in a country with a very high level of abortion and a law demographic rate. A specific aim of the campaign is also to introduce in the law on sexual and reproductive health the principle that “the child is protected from the day of conception”, and to make pre-abortion consultation systematic. This campaign ended on October 16 with an official conference on the “Protection of the Right to live” held at the Latvian Parliament; a special attention has been given to the San José Articles by the Secretary of State to Justice and various speakers.
The Pro-Life campaign (in Latvian – “Par dzīvību”) began on August 1, 2012, with the opening of an internet page www.pardzivibu.lv and a consultation phone-line. Every day the supporting persons number grew – famous Latvian artists, musicians, actors, TV journalists, priests, politicians, sportsmen etc. expressed their public support.
The campaign became well publicized with the inauguration early September of an art installation in one of the major streets at the heart of Riga old town displaying 27 sculptures of small babies symbolizing the 27 abortions that take place each day in Latvia. Each baby sculpture is accompanied by a text in Latvian, English and Russian, telling the true story of an aborted child and the reason for his “mother’s choice”. (see pictures here)
This art installation, remarked by art critics for its quality, remained in the street for several weeks without special protection. Passers-by, touched by those stories, have laid candles and flowers before each baby sculptures.
Many posters have also been displayed all over Rigain public places presenting a fetus in the womb with declarations from various famous people saying THANKS for life! Poems, songs and video saying “Thanks to parents” have also been spontaneously written for this campaign where different people express their gratitude to their parents for the gift of life. The advertisement companies accepted to publish those posters for free. Info tents were placed inRiga center providing information on the prenatal development of baby and about the possibilities of support available for pregnant women (shelter houses, crisis centres, financial support etc.)
Three conferences on the legal, medical and spiritual aspects of abortion were organized, as well as a concert closing the campaign.
The medical conference gathering Latvian gynecologists and international experts was dedicated to “Napro technology and fertility of woman”. It took place in Riga City Council on October 12. Gynecologists received information in particular about the natural family planning. The next day, another conference on the “Spiritual battle in favor of life” took place at Latvian Lutheran Church Board house.
Within the context of this campaign, the Parliament of Latvia held an official conference on the “right to life” discussing the possible ways of reducing the number of abortions in Latvia and the obligations of the State in this regard, especially through the creation of an effective family support system, so that everyone could “choose not to abort”.
Among the participants were Mr Egils Levits, Latvian Judge at the European Court of Justice, Mr Jansons, Ombudsman of Latvia, several parliamentarians and academics and myself. I presented the status of abortion within the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights.
The Minister of Justice of Latvia J. Bordāns was represented by the Secretary of State to Justice. In his speech, referring to the San José Articles, he underlinded the absence of any international human right to abortion and stressed the necessity to promote a culture open to life.
This conference was organised by MP Imants Parādnieks, President of the Commission on Demography of the Parliament, and Natālija Magazeina, representative of Latvian Lawyer’s Association. It was organised in the framework of the current discussion of a new amendment to the law on sexual and reproductive health aimed at affirming the principle of the protection of the prenatal life and at making pre-abortion consultation systematic. This discussion started in the Sub-Commission on the Right to Life set up as a working group under the Commission on Demography and will now continue in the Commission on Demography
This conference, as well as all the pro-life campaign, received great attention from the public and the media. It was very much coverd by national TVs and newspapers. The Pro-Life campaign was organized by a group of 10-12 volunteers from various organizations. For more information: Natalija Magazeina – firstname.lastname@example.org