International ultra-conservative anti-abortion lobbying

Hvordan jobber konservative krefter for å forby abort rundt om i verden? – les denne viktige teksten av Greta Gober.

October 3rd 2016, was a day of national women’s strike in Poland. Approximately 150 thousand people took to the streets in different cities across Poland and Europe to protest against proposal for a total ban on abortion in Poland. The protest was called #BlackModay as women and men marched in the streets wearing black as a sign of mourning for women’s reproductive rights.

The proposal Poles are protesting against is a civil initiative registered in 2015 in the Parliament under the name “Stop abortion.” Initiated by several conservative non-governmental organizations it asks for an absolute prohibition of abortion and for criminal liability for anyone who causes the death of a conceived child. Under the human embryo protection rhetoric it threatens to halt not only abortion, but also prenatal care, in-vitro fertilization procedures and even the post-colloid contraception or the so called “morning after” pill.

At the same time as the “Stop abortion” committee was gathering signatures under their proposal, a counter initiative aiming at liberalizing the current law, under the name “Save the Women”, was organized. Both initiatives managed to collect the required number of signatures and deliver their proposals to the Polish Parliament.

In September 2016 the Polish Parliament rejected in the first reading the bill proposed by “Save the Women” committee, while agreeing to further work on the “Stop abortion” initiative. The parliamentary debate was described in the media as “hell of women” versus “hell of children” war and angered thousands of women and men across the country. If the law goes through it will make Poland’s abortion laws as restrictive as those in two other countries in Europe: Malta and the Vatican.

In this article I want to turn our attention to the “brain” organization that is behind the discussed anti-abortion bill in Poland. Institute Ordo Iuris is a conservative anti-choice association that is trying to influence European legislation through legal expertise.

They call themselves Institute for Legal Culture – and in the official information one can find on their website they say: we are an independent legal organization established as a foundation in Poland. We gather academics and legal practitioners aiming at promotion of legal culture based on the respect for human dignity and rights. We pursue our objectives by means of research and other academic activity as well as advocacy and litigation.

Despite the fact Ordo Iuris was founded only in 2013 it is already among organizations consulted by the Polish Government within the legislative process. Third parties interventions by the Ordo Iuris Institute were accepted by Polish courts, including Supreme Court of the Republic of Poland. The Institute was also allowed by the President of the European Committee of Social Rights to submit observations in a complaint considered by the Committee as well as allowed by the President of the European Court of Human Rights to deliver third party intervention. Director of this Institute, Professor at the Law Faculty of Warsaw University represented Ordo Iuris at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe | in 2014 where he organized a conference on freedom of conscience and advocated freedom of conscience in a much broader sense than usually accepted (that is, even for institutions and not only for individuals) and opposed abortion on all grounds. He wrote a book “Protection of Human Life in Its Early Stage”.

Ordo Iuris provided the legal and analytic background for the “Stop abortion” initiative. All experts working with this organization are lawyers.

Ordo Iuris is part of an international network of organizations that pursue the same ultra conservative goals around the world.  In the logo of the institute one sees the Lion of Judah, a symbol of Jesus derived from the Old Testament. The same lion is part of the logo of Tradição, Família e propriedade (TFP – Tradition, Family and Property), an organization born in Latin America, precisely in Brazil in 1960 to defend Christianity against the threat of Freemasons and Communism. Soon they’ve began international expansion, establishing offices in about 30 countries worldwide. Today, most intensive work is done in Latin America, but also in Germany, France and the USA. They are famous for their actions against the right to abortion and LGBT rights demands.

Links with other organizations to which Ordo Iuris points on their website include:


European Dignity Watch

Alliance Defending Freedom

European Center for Law and Justice

International Center on Law, Life, Faith and Family

C-FAM  – the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam)  was founded in 1997 in USA in order to monitor and affect the social policy debate at the United Nations and other international institutions. They describe their mission as “to defend life and family at international institutions and to publicize the debate”, with its core values including “Fidelity to the teachings of the Church.”

European Dignity Watch is a non-governmental and non-profit organization based in Europe’s capital Brussels. It claims to defend the three most vital pillars of a free society: Personal freedom & responsibility, fundamental rights and the family.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an American conservative Christian nonprofit organization with the stated goal of “defending the right to hear and speak the Truth.” The ADF opposes abortion, and believes that healthcare workers have a right to decline participation in the performance of abortions and other practices that they find morally objectionable. ADF opposes same-sex marriage and civil unions, as well as adoption by same-sex couples and believes parents should be able to opt their children out of sexual education in schools that run counter to a family’s religious beliefs.

The European Centre for Law and Justice is an international, Non-Governmental Organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights in Europe and worldwide. The ECLJ holds special Consultative Status before the United Nations/ECOSOC since 2007. The first thing one can see on their website is a banner inviting readers to “shackle and debate on abortion” and collecting money to “Stop neonatal infanticide”!

Stop neonatal infanticide!

The International Center on Law, Life, Faith and Family (ICOLF) was established with a view to producing, compiling and providing a broad range of resources and materials for a number of interested parties working on “Law, life, faith and family” issues on the national, regional and international levels.

The success of this proposed abortion ban in Poland – detrimental to the rights of women – is not an accident, nor is it the work of a spontaneous, grass-roots coalition. It is the result of years of work of several specialized ultra – conservative organizations, each targeting differed spheres of social and public life, starting from media campaigns calculated to shock the public opinion, others specializing in influencing schools and local governments, yet others proving legal expertise and protection for organizations and individuals who support the same agenda and yet other focused on influencing the international human rights law.

We should all be aware of the scope of organizing and professionalism that goes into these misogynistic initiatives in countries like Poland, but also in other countries around Europe and the world. 

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