Croatia has experienced a very dramatic drop in the abortion rate from 1989 when the nation's 51,289 abortions were nearly equal to the number of live births. The latest statistics, from 2005, indicate there were 4,563 abortions – a drop of nearly 90% since 1989. Significantly the law on abortion has not changed.
The main reason for the change of hearts and minds on abortion in the country has been the strength of the leadership of the Catholic hierarchy according to pro-life activists and others familiar with Croatia.
Dr. Antun Lisec the director of Human Life International in Croatia attests that his many successes in saving the lives of unborn children in the country comes thanks to the superb support and cooperation of Catholic bishops and priests in the nation which is over 80% Catholic.
Canadian Catholic novelist and painter Michael D. O'Brien, who won the Croatian national Buvina award for achievement in faith and culture, has travelled to Croatia three times in order to do research for his latest novel just released by Ignatius Press. (To order O'Brien's latest novel Island of the World click here: http://studiobrien.com/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=152&Itemid=1 )
During his trips O'Brien had frequent contact with the nation's Catholic hierarchy and told LifeSiteNews.com that their success in fighting the culture of death is not surprising given their outstanding courage. "The culture of death in its many forms has assaulted that nation relentlessly, has crucified that church relentlessly," said O'Brien. "They have maintained a dynamic orthodoxy in their seminaries, in their clergy, in their religious orders. There is no vocation crisis in Croatia. And they are united totally with the Holy Father."
"The fruits of this are more than evident," continued O'Brien. "They are a sign for the West."
O'Brien observed: "When you have been bombed, when you have been imprisoned, when you have seen your own lay people and priests tortured and exterminated you do not let yourself be intimidated by the subtle nuances of dissident theologians. The corrupt moral theology, so dominant in Western Europe and the Americas has little or no influence."
"The people have tasted death in many forms and they recognize it when it comes in theological disguises," concluded O'Brien.
While many bishops, and bishops conferences in the West and Europe have, when dealing with the issue of embryonic stem cell research refused to touch the underlining issue of in vitro fertilization (IVF), the Croatian bishops conference did just that. Going straight to the core of the debate on embryonic stem cell research, the bishops in 2005 noted that IVF, the source of most of the worlds embryos for embryonic stem cell research, is "a serious crime against conceived human lives and their dignity".
Jim Hughes, Vice President of International Right to Life Federation, commented to LifeSiteNews.com on the work of the Catholic bishops in Croatia saying, "Thank God for their leadership. Hopefully their efforts will resonate throughout the world to give courage to other bishops and faithful to speak up in defense of human life."