Tuesday, March 19th, the European Parliament hosted the first edition of the “Babies Go to the European Parliament” event, organised by Cătălin IVAN, un-attached Member of the European Parliament (MEP), upon the initiative of the “Sfânta Împărăteasă Alexandra” (Saint Alexandra the Empress) Centre in Romania.
The event is the result of a long series of events held in Romania and the Republic of Moldova in recent years – in particular, the March for life, which has been instrumental in bringing the pregnancy crisis phenomenon to the attention of the general public. The European Parliament event was inspired by the practice in the United States, where women having undergone a pregnancy crisis go to the U.S. Congress together with their children and give testimonials before the Congress members, who congratulate them on their courage and discuss ways of supporting women in a pregnancy crisis. The host of the event over the past two years in Washington, D.C. has been U.S. Vice-president Mike PENCE.
The pregnancy crisis is a time where the woman cannot fully enjoy the life of the child she bears, because she is under pressure from her partner, her family, her workmates, and her employers, and receives no support whatsoever from her community. She is often left to her own devices, and her insecurities are further enhanced either by the indifference of those surrounding her, or by physical and psychological abuse – lasting for months, uninterruptedly.
The topic of this year’s edition was “Beyond the pro-life vs pro-choice debate, there is room for the EU to support women in a pregnancy crisis”. Thus, the participants in the event talked about what could be done concretely, in the EU, for women in a pregnancy crisis, beyond any conceptual debates concerning pro-life vs. pro-choice/pro-abortion.
Speakers included women who had gone through a pregnancy crisis and who talked about their experiences, then managers and representatives of centres supporting women in a pregnancy crisis, members of the European Parliament, and people who wished to open assistance centres or start up new support programs.
As a moderator and previous executive manager of the “Sfânta Împărăteasă Alexandra” Counselling Centre for Parents and Children, I invited the attendants to think about any potential support alternatives in this matter, since actual support was what was missing.
Independent MEP Cătălin IVAN also spoke about the need for national and European policies that would support women in a pregnancy crisis.
Pregnancy Crisis Testimonials
During the first part of the event, a few particularly touching testimonials were given, regarding individual pregnancy crises.
Daniela BĂLINIȘTEANU is from Iași. She is a journalist and mother of four. Ioana, the third child, had been diagnosed with acrania and lived for only six hours. Daniela spoke about the difficult moments she had to go through when those around her pressured her to have an abortion and mentioned how she was left almost alone in that situation, being supported only by her husband, who faced the negative attitudes of the persons around them in a very courageous manner.
Simona MIHĂLESCU runs the “Elena” support and counselling centre for women in a pregnancy crisis, in the town of Rădăuți, Romania, but a few years ago, she herself went through a similar crisis.
Mirela Letiția FELDEREAN is a neonatologist doctor in the city of Cluj, Romania, and throughout her career, she has given support to many women who found themselves in a pregnancy crisis, who now enjoy their life next to their children. She spoke about the cases she had met, where women in a pregnancy crisis asked for her help and how she found solutions to support them.
Dana ARDELEAN runs the “Piciorușe – Little Feet” Centre in the city of Baia Mare. She spoke about the pregnancy crisis she had gone through herself, as well as about the activity of the Centre.
Angela MITU is a student in Bucharest and together with her friend Daniel she helped out a young woman who was being pressured by her family to have an abortion.
Adelina FRONEA, a psychologist and human resource expert for 15 years, delivered a written paper, a very emotional testimony about the abortion she had when she was 19; it ruined her inner life until she found redemption in Christ; she is now developing an on-line portal for counselling in pregnancy crisis.
The first part of the event was closed by Ioana PICOȘ, a pro-family activist, who has counselled and encouraged many women in a pregnancy crisis and has inspired many people to choose life.
Branislav SKRIPEK, MEP and President of the European Christian Political Movement, stated that he had learnt about the pregnancy crisis issue recently and that he was impressed by the testimonials given by the women who had gone through such a crisis. Ana Zaborska participated to the conference as well.
Support Centres Are Necessary – and They Are Efficient
The second part of the event was focused on how women in a pregnancy crisis could be helped effectively. The speakers included Mirela ANDREI, social worker with the “Sfânta Împărăteasă Alexandra” Counselling Centre for Parents and Children, who spoke about how social workers could help women in a pregnancy crisis; Fr. Cosmin BRÎNZĂ, manager of the “Praesidio” Centre of the Metropolitan Church of Moldavia and Bucovina, who spoke about the activity of the centre; Gavriil TĂNASE, who spoke about the support that the “Pro-Vita Valea Plopului” Association had extended over the years; Tabita-Lois BOTOI, who spoke about the activity of the Pro-life Office of the Alba-Iulia Archbishopric, and Pastor Gheorghe ALECSEI, with the “Estera” Foundation in Timișoara. Fr. Ilarion MÂȚĂ, inspector with the Social and Philanthropic Sector of the Archbishopric of Roman and Bacău, underlined the need to develop local networks of support centres.
Iustina OPRESCU represented the “Clujul pentru viață” Association (Cluj for Life) and spoke about the need for information programmes for women in a pregnancy crisis. Răzvan POPOVICI, political consultant, spoke about how politicians could help women in a pregnancy crisis. Anita RADICS, president of Romanian Youth Orthodox Association – Banatul de Munte, spoke about the young people’s involvement in supporting women in a pregnancy crisis, and Irina PÂRÂU spoke about the opening of a centre for women in a pregnancy crisis in the city of Sibiu. Lastly, professor Theodora VILD spoke about the importance of education and the need to encourage a mindset that would value pregnant women.
To all those present in the room, the event provided an opportunity to understand the problems that women in a pregnancy crisis face and encouraged concrete involvement.
This first edition of the “Babies Go to the European Parliament” event was also attended by persons from other countries, who congratulated MEP Cătălin IVAN on his initiative, as well as the Romanian co-organisers and participants and stated that next year’s second edition would by all means have to gather together mothers and representatives of pregnancy crisis centres in all EU countries.