Catholic Church is reportedly against a referendum on prohibition of abortion.
If the Constitutional Court does not overturn the law adopted in 1978 which regulates the right to abortion, it is possible that some of conservative NGOs, including “U Ime Obitelji” Association, may try to gather enough signatures for a referendum to change the law. The news has been confirmed by a member of the Association’s Steering Committee Krešimir Planinić, reports Večernji List on November 24, 2016.
“If the Constitutional Court confirms the constitutionality of the law, I do not exclude any democratic and legal tool that we have available in order to protect the right to life of unborn children. We can turn to the European Court of Human Rights, next year we will again organize the ‘Walk for Life’ event, and one of the tools is a referendum”, said Planinić.
Commenting on rumours that such a referendum initiative could be launched in the spring, before the local elections scheduled for May, he replied that the Association had not yet discussed it. Planinić referred to the arguments included with their submission to the Constitutional Court, which include the 2009 interpretation of experts from the Department of Obstetrics, Clinical Hospital Centre Zagreb, that life begins at conception. He did not want to speculate how the possible referendum question could be phrased, but one of the possible models which could be partially incorporated into the Croatian legislation is the so-called Polish model, according to which abortion is permitted only if the life of a mother is in danger.
Association president Željka Markić also said that they had not discussed the possibility to launch the referendum initiative in the spring. “At the moment, there is no referendum initiative which is being planned for the spring”, said Markić. She did not want to say whether a referendum was possible eventually.
Although the leadership of the Catholic Church say they do not know the details of the referendum question, they admit they were asked a month ago about it, but seemingly they were not thrilled with the idea. “I have heard about it. If this is true, I believe their intentions are good, driven by a desire to protect human lives. However, I would say that at the moment it is more important for people to be converted on the issue than to organize a referendum or change the law. A referendum or a change of law would not really change anything”, said Mate Uzinić, Bishop of Dubrovnik.
President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Želimir Puljić, Archbishop of Zadar, said it was well known that the law of 1978 was ambiguous and vague in regards to human life. “In addition, and it is contrary to the Constitution which guarantees to every human being the right to life. Hundreds of thousands of unborn children have been destroyed under the law from the Communist era before they came into the world”, said Puljić.
One of the bishops who wished to remain anonymous said that they were not interested in changing the legal framework. There message is: “Life is sacred and must be defended. Nobody has the right to kill an unborn child.” However, bishops are not interested in changing the legal framework, he said, adding that in Croatia, as the majority Christian nation, the Polish approach would be the best.