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Hungary taps EU funds for anti-abortion campaign

Hungary is using EU money to co-finance an anti-abortion campaign, leading to calls from European authorities to return the funds, according to a report by EurActiv France and EurActiv Hungary.

The funds, taken from EU employment and social solidarity program PROGRESS, provide the bulk of financing for the €416,000 anti-abortion campaign, the report said.

The scheme included putting up posters in the Budapest metro with an image of a fetus addressing its mother: "I understand that you are not yet ready for me, but give me up to the adoption agency, LET ME LIVE!"

EU Fundamental Rights Commissioner Viviane Reding said the campaign did not "conform with the project proposal submitted by the Hungarian authorities".

The commissioner said the campaign went against European values and Hungary must return the funds as quickly as possible.

Hungary argued that the campaign was "aimed at women who wanted to have a child but did not have the means of raising it; it is a matter of encouraging adoption". However, the country has said it will "take the appropriate measures" if its arguments are not accepted by Brussels.

Hungarian Minister of State for Family and Youth Miklós Soltész has claimed that the campaign is not a first step towards banning abortion, saying "Hungarian society is not ready for a ban on abortion" like that in Poland, for example. "We want to underline the importance of life," he added.

Abortion is currently legal in Hungary. Nearly two-thirds of the Hungarians approve of it, according to a poll by Eurostat.