Again, countless wooden crosses, signs and balloons – mostly in green, the color of fertility and growth: At the weekend, thousands of people set out on a “March for Life” through the center of Berlin for the 18th time. Above all, to protest against abortion and active euthanasia.
According to the Bundesverband Lebensrecht (BVL), an association of 16 mostly Christian organizations, there were almost 4,000 demonstrators, about the same as in the previous year. The march remains the largest rally of its kind in Germany, as it is in many other countries around the world.
The Archbishop of Berlin, Heiner Koch, Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer from Regensburg, the Auxiliary Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart Thomas Maria Renz and the Vicar Bishop of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Germany, Emmanuel Sfiatkosi, were also present. Other top church representatives such as the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, and Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki had expressed their support in written greetings.
Controversial support from the AfD
Supportive greetings also came from the AfD, which is said to prevent many from taking part in the rally. Critics have long accused the march of not distancing itself enough from fundamentalist groups. Several hundred counter-demonstrators took to the streets again this year. Among other things, an “alliance for sexual self-determination” made up of trade unions, SPD, Greens and Left Party made itself felt, but was kept at a distance by several hundred police officers.
So far, so familiar from the last few years. However, the general political climate has changed. In their view, opponents of the current legal abortion regulations were able to achieve an important success with the abolition of the advertising ban for abortions. At the rally, former CDU member of the Bundestag Sylvia Pantel expressed concern that this was only the beginning of the deletion of paragraph 218 and other steps to further liberalize abortions.
Warnings about new rules on assisted suicide
The CDU member of the Bundestag Hubert Hüppe mentioned further fears. With regard to the planned new regulation of assisted suicide, he warned that as a result many people could be under pressure to commit suicide in order to relieve relatives, for example. The Federal Government’s former commissioner for people with disabilities also opposed the selection of unborn babies as a result of the tests for genetic damage. He also warned against “turning women into birthing machines” by allowing surrogacy.
BVL Chairwoman Alexandra Maria Linder added that the demands made by the march were increasingly being called into question internationally. She criticized efforts at the United Nations, for example, to enshrine a fundamental right to abortion. At the same time, Linder defended the new regulations on abortions in Hungary. There, before having an abortion, women must obtain a certificate that they have listened to the heartbeat of their embryo. This is rightly part of educating a pregnant woman, “so that she knows what’s going on in her body,” said the BVL chairwoman.
Guest from USA
At the kick-off podium, Linder presented a guest that is rather rare among the mainly Christian and conservative participants. She introduced Terrisa Bukovinac as the founder of the Democrats for Life of America, a movement that represents a minority position in the US Democratic Party because of its opposition to abortion. Bukovinac described herself as “atheist and leftist”, at the same time she condemned abortions as “global genocide” and called for non-violent resistance.
The march ended with a lot of sacropop in a church service. Auxiliary Bishop Renz called for a scientifically based debate on the protection of life. He demanded that anyone who does not grant the embryo human rights from conception must justify the arguments with which this is the case at a later point in time.