New Croatian Government to Change Abortion and Assisted Reproduction Policies?

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A change of policy on the way on abortion and assisted reproduction in Croatia?

Birth rates in Croatia are in constant decline, so the fixing of the demographic situation in Croatia was one of the key points during HDZ’s election campaign, and it will be the main job of the newly-planned Ministry of Family, Immigration and Demographic Renewal. However, it is still not known who will head the newly-established ministry or what it will precisely do, reports on January 16, 2016.

In the context of falling birth rates in Croatia, we should mention infertility which is the growing problem for many couples. In Croatia, every fifth couple is struggling with infertility, and without the help of doctors they would remain without any chance to become parents. However, according to recent statements, they might again have to seek help abroad if they want to have a child.

One of the main candidates for the minister of the newly-established Ministry of Demographic Renewal is Ladislav Ilčić from HRAST, a party which openly supports the ban on assisted reproduction techniques. But, what is even more important is that HDZ’s Ante Ćorušić is increasingly being mentioned as a possible Health Minister. In his speeches he clearly hinted that he would ban the freezing of embryos. “Thirty percent of embryos are wasted, who will decide which ones are viable and which ones are not? I would change the law to how it was before”, said Ćorušić recently.

Except Ćorušić, other HDZ representatives have still not declared their position. However, the conservative current is quite strong in HDZ, which was demonstrated as early as 2012, when HDZ said that the new law which has made artificial reproduction easier was a crime on par with Bleiburg and Jasenovac. At the time, HDZ fully supported the position of Croatian bishops and of the conservative initiative “I Also Used to Be an Embryo Once”. Ante Ćorušić at the time said that the new law was unnatural and directed against families. “We are the only species on this planet to which God said ‘Thou shalt not kill’, and this law allows the killing of innocents, of those who cannot defend themselves. A child born by IVF is also a gift from God. But the procedure is questionable. To get one child with such artificial reproductive procedures, you have to sacrifice ten of his brothers and sisters”, said Ćorušić. The law was finally adopted in July 2012, with 45 MPs from HDZ and HDSSB voting against.

Ćorušić said a few days ago that he was personally against abortion, but that he would not ban it completely. Although there have been no announcements on any changes in the law on medically assisted reproduction, we can probably expect changes in this field if he really becomes the new Health Minister.

“Such statements are contrary to all the guidelines and good practices in infertility treatment worldwide. According to a study of more than 400.000 cycles of stimulation, it has been proven that the greatest success was achieved with women who received 15-20 eggs which were all fertilized”, said Klaudija Kordić, vice president of Roda Association and a mother of three children born thanks to assisted fertilization procedures. She added that before the new law was adopted in 2012, Croatia had the most stringent laws regulating medically assisted reproduction in Europe.

In recent days, the media has again speculated that the first minister of the new Ministry of Family might be Ladislav Ilčić. Ilčić and his party openly advocate for a ban on abortion and artificial reproduction. For him, condoms are a “political, religious and health issue”, and he was one of the outspoken opponents of health education in schools which would be “more dangerous than the communist program”.

“Health education in schools is used to introduce homosexual propaganda. It teaches the children that homosexual acts are equally valuable and natural as heterosexual,” said Ilčić. His attitudes are heavily influenced by the Church. “The Church condemns behaviour of homosexuals as evil and it has the right to say it”, said Ilčić.

Attitudes of Ilčić and Ćorušić are quite close to the Church doctrine. Although from the very beginning of coalition negotiations MOST has tried to distance itself from any ideological issues, possible naming of Ilčić and Ćorušić to the two most important ministries when it comes to demographic policy will be a clear signal about the ideological preferences of the new Croatian government.


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