Life must be protected from the moment of conception, Hungary’s ruling party said in a draft of the country’s new constitution that would effectively introduce a complete ban on abortion after several decades of liberal laws.
Pope Benedict XVI earlier in December told the Hungarian ambassador it was “desirable that the new constitution be inspired by Christian values, particularly in what concerns the position of marriage and the family in society and the protection of life.” The pontiff’s wishes are reflected well in the governing Fidesz party’s proposal, which — in additional to mirroring papal teaching on abortion — says marriage is “the most natural community of man and woman.”
Hungary’s new constitution — even though irritating for those who believe in women’s freedom of choice or fail to see any danger in gay marriage — could be interpreted as a response to the country’s population decline, which strains the pension system.
Hungary in November went back to a pay-as-you-go state pension scheme, into which current employees contribute cash paid out to current pensioners. Like elsewhere in the developed world, Hungary’s population is aging, which puts a question mark over who will pay pensions in several decades to those who are young now.
But that’s a question for the future. A pressing concern at present is Hungary’s budget deficit, which the country needs to trim in line with the requirements of the European Union that, with the International Monetary Fund, saved Hungary from bankruptcy in 2008. After the EU refused to allow Hungary to deduct the costs of the 1997 pension system change from its deficits, the country decided to fill the gap by eradicating the cost altogether and scrapping the mandatory funded system, managed by private firms.
In the long run, the system remains unsustainable without more children who’ll grow up to become taxpayers financing the previous generation’s pensions. The governing party might be hoping for a repeat of a surge in new births in 1950-1956 under Health Minister Anna Ratko, when abortion was banned and the childless taxed. The generation of the so-called Ratko-children was born. They and their children — the “Ratko-grandchildren” — have so far kept Hungary’s pension system running.
On abortion and same-sex marriage, Hungary seems to be going the road Poland took in the 1990s. Poland’s constitution, adopted in 1997, mentions marriage as the opposite-sex union and states that life is protected from conception to natural death.
In Poland, abortion is allowed if the pregnancy is a result of rape or for medical reasons. But sometimes, despite the exception from the constitutional rule, those women who meet the criteria are still refused abortion, with doctors — all of which joined medical schools when abortion in some form was legal — saying the procedure now violates their moral code. As to gay unions, the Polish “protection” of opposite-sex marriage has served conservative politicians to quiet any talk of civil unions. The conservatives interpret the constitution as instituting a ban on formalizing same-sex unions in whatever form.
An illegal abortion market flourishes in Poland. When a private doctor isn’t an option in Poland, abortion tourism is — Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands are among the most popular destinations for the more affluent, while the Baltic States for those with scarce resources.
The Hungarian government’s pension system overhaul didn’t spark many protests in the society, which seems to agree the ruling party, with a two-thirds majority in parliament, has the right to choose the tools for reaching its economic goals. The new constitution will test if the society has a similar view on ethics.
- Hungary Deploys New Anti-Invasion Force
- Hungarian Government to Pay “Migrant Hunters” at Borders
- Hungary Won't "Compensate" Immigrants
- Hungarian PM: Migrants Are “Trojan Wooden Horses” for Terrorism
- Pope Francis tells White Christians to Stop Having Kids because they Destroy the Planet