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“Marches for Life do not benefit women”

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Funding for the network of neoconservative movements in Europe has quadrupled in the last decade

All over Europe, following the example of the United States, these marches for life are gaining strength, in which the organizations behind these public rallies are working to deconstruct human rights and to reduce women’s reproductive rights.



As recently reported by the British online media The Guardian, it is an extremely influential network of organizations that are characterized in the foreign media as ultra-Catholic and populist far-right interest groups. Prof. dr. Roman Cook from the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana, who together with prof. David Patternot from the University of Brussels wrote a book with the title “Anti-gender campaigns in Europe”emphasizes that it is a network of various actors of neoconservative movements, which in the last fifteen years have also become very strong in Europe and in which the Roman Catholic Church has an important starting point.

It should be known that these are not individual groups of a smaller scale, but rather a large transnational movement that was transferred from the USA, where it originated in the 70s of the last century, to Europe, and where it tries to influence the European politicians, they try to enter European institutions and occupy important decision-making positions in the field of equality policies. The mentioned neoconservative movements base their activities on the politics of fear, he says Roman Cook and adds that “they create an episode of moral panic and provide an easy populist solution”. Their basic strategy, however, consists of three main steps: initially preventing access to abortion, gradually restricting the right to abortion, and finally banning abortion altogether. We could see the implementation of such a strategy recently in the USA and in Poland.

More than $700 million is just the tip of the iceberg of funding for neoconservative movements

British researcher Neil Datta recently published a study he called “Tip of the Iceberg”, because in his research he could only discover the tip of the iceberg of financing anti-gender movements. In the aforementioned research, we can read that more than 700 million dollars have been spent on the operation of the network of movements against equality in the last ten years. As explained by Prof. dr. Roman Kuhar, the bulk of the funding comes from Europe, namely from various private foundations. We can trace the French Jerome Jeleune Foundation, which otherwise deals with research in the field of genetics and significantly finances neoconservative movements. Also a radical Catholic organization with the name “Tradition, family, property” is one of the major financiers of the neoconservative network. Some small-scale sources of funding come from the US, namely from the conservative Christian right, and Russian oligarchs are also an important source of funding. Roman Cook he singles out two important oligarchs, namely Vladimir Yakunin and Konstantin Malofeev. The latter is the owner of some Russian media, where they propagate various methods of preventing abortion. To this must be added an important piece of information presented this year by the European Parliamentary Forum, namely that the financing of neoconservative movements in Europe has increased by four times in the last ten years. If in 2009 it amounted to just over 22 million US dollars, by 2018 it had reached a dizzying 98 million dollars.

The USA, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Italy are abolishing women’s rights

Despite the World Health Organization calling for the complete decriminalization of abortion, many countries continue, and some even increasingly, to undermine the exercise of human rights by denying bodily autonomy, criminalizing abortion, lacking clear standards and guidelines on safe abortion, and denying health services that they save lives. Among them, the most obvious example is the United States, where it has been just over three months since the US Supreme Court made a shocking decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 law that provided constitutional protection for abortion rights across the United States. Abortion in the US is now banned in at least 14 states. However, it will soon be two years since Poland’s Constitutional Court ruled that abortions due to fetal defects are unconstitutional, thus introducing an almost complete ban on termination of pregnancy. Poland is also seeing a dramatic increase in pregnancy and abortion surveillance using technology and data, as the country’s conservative government launched a new government database to track people’s pregnancies. Polish women seek help from non-governmental organizations and abroad. Hungary is following a similar path, having also changed its abortion law, forcing pregnant women to listen to the fetus’s heartbeat before allowing them to have an artificial termination of pregnancy. In Croatia, according to some estimates, there are already more than 60 percent of gynecologists who exercise conscientious objection when asking patients for a safe termination of pregnancy, a very similar situation can also be detected in neighboring Italy, where after the rise of the populist right-wing party Brothers of Italy and the victory of Giorgio Meloni, it is expected deterioration of the position of women. Both Croatian and Italian women are looking for a safe medical abortion in Slovenia.

In the context of the tightening of equality policies, which we are witnessing in the mentioned countries, prof. dr. Darja Zaviršek explains that it should not be forgotten that historically all authoritarian leaders were also natalists, and women were reduced to bearing children. “In Nazi Germany, women were given Nazi crosses for giving birth, and we also remember the regime of dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, which caused thousands of Romanian children to end up in orphanages after 1991”. he says. We also witnessed discussions about the alleged demographic winter at the last demographic summit in Budapest, where family policy was discussed exclusively by politicians (of the male gender) from Poland, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and the USA, and the central problem was declared to be too low a birth rate. women, which is misleading, as the statistics do not support this. Therefore, according to the opinion Roman Kuhar necessarily strengthen the validity of scientific discourse and the validity of scientific evidence. An important element of the success of populist neoconservative movements is also the fact that we are currently in a period when science is being called into question. As Kuhar points out, the big problem is that a scientific finding has the same validity as an opinion on Facebook or some positions that populist movements formulate and present as the equivalent of science.

The issue of women’s right to abortion is also under constant attack in Slovenia

If we look at Slovenian history, the issue of women’s right to abortion is raised again and again, starting with the year 1991, when politicians and activists of the time elected that women’s right to abortion be written into the Slovenian constitution. As explained by Prof. dr. Roman Kuhar, we have witnessed attempts to abolish this right many times over the past years. What has changed in the last few years are new strategies and methods of communication and the very skillful use of social networks. Darja Zaviršek points out that the first public manifestations of neoconservative movements in Slovenia appeared in 2016, when the public was agitated by prayers in front of the Ljubljana gynecological clinic. Since then, the pressures on both gynecologists and women who decide to have an abortion have increased significantly. “Let us remind you of the controversial photos of pregnancy on the facade of a church in the center of Ljubljana and the photos of saddened women that appeared on LPP buses“, says Zaviršek. The transparency of the source of funding for international networks is also important in connection with what has been said, because it tells us that individual movements, such as those occurring in Slovenia, are not a matter of chance or a spontaneous reversal of society’s values, but it is a very systematic investment of money in a natalist ideology, as he also points out Darja Zaviršek, it is a constant struggle over whether women will retain their hard-won autonomy in making decisions about their own bodies, whether they will go to work or stay at home, how many children and when they will have them, or whether they will not have them at all. they will lose their autonomy in deciding the course of their own lives.

State institutions should raise awareness

“I think that the state institutions that should raise awareness fell asleep”, is critical Finish and believes that in connection with misleading the public about abortion, NIJZ, the Faculty of Medicine, public and private gynecological clinics must join the debate, which must fill the void of misinformation. “At the same time, let me remind you of the completely invented construct of the post-abortion syndrome, something that does not exist at all and with which neoconservative networks deceive and scare women. This is similar to how this female hysteria was invented in the 19th century. Instead of populist intimidation of people, which on the march, we should start talking loudly at the national level about the universal availability of gynecological services and about the inalienable constitutional rights of women,” Zaviršek also emphasizes.

The Intelekta show also discussed the populist movements that strive to reduce human rights and that have grown in strength in Europe in recent years, their goals, consequences and impact on the structure of a democratic society.





Source: Rtvslo

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