In Hungary, like America, abortion is a highly contentious issue. While 60 percent of Hungarians believe that the procedure should be legal, the nation's new proposed constitution takes a definitive stance on the protection of life. Article 2 of the document reads: "The life of a fetus will be protected from conception." And now, on the heels of Hungary's constitutional debate comes a new battle over a government-run anti-abortion campaign.
After Hungary used European Union (EU) funds to fuel a pro-life campaign, officials are demanding the initiative be stopped. Some are even asking for the monies to be returned to the international body. The Budapest Times has more:
Hungary’s use of European Union funds to finance a nationwide anti-abortion campaign is not in line with their intended purpose, the vice-president of the EU’s executive said on Wednesday during a debate over Hungary’s new Constitution in the European Parliament.
Central to the campaign is an emotive billboard advertisement that went up around Budapest and the provinces last month. It carries the image of a foetus and the words: “I understand if you’re not ready for me yet, but give me up for adoption instead – PLEASE LET ME LIVE!”
The EU had allocated monies for Hungary for a special program aimed at addressing work-life balance. This, officials say, has nothing to do with an anti-abortion campaign. According to Viviane Reding, Commission vice-president and European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, the ads must be stopped:
"It is not in line with the project proposal submitted to the Commission by the Hungarian authorities. The Commission asks (the Hungarian government) to stop this part of the campaign without further delay and to remove all existing posters."
AFP has more:
For the centre-right administration of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, which has already clashed with the EU on a whole host of other issues, the campaign was part of a drive for "balanced families".
"This campaign addresses women who are ready to give birth to a baby but cannot bring him or her up," said Peter Harrach, deputy leader of the parliamentary Christian Democrat party KDNP, which is the junior coalition member and backed the campaign.
Women's rights groups, however, are up in arms and fear it could be a first step towards criminalising abortion.
The posters turned a woman's right to abortion into "a moral question rather than a human rights issue," said Julia Spronz, a lawyer of the Hungarian Women's Lobby.
"It did not respect women's choices over their own bodies. Instead, it just treated their bodies as containers," Spronz said.
Abortion continues to be a highly-contentious issue in America and abroad. It seems the EU may demand its money back, considering that the majority of the campaign's posters have already been taken down (the campaign concluded in May). Pro-life proponents will certainly be watching how Hungary's new constitution -- and government -- handle these issues moving forward.