Prague, April 22 (CTK) – A large group of anti-abortion activists marched through the centre of the Czech capital city Saturday, carrying flags, white crosses and banners reading “Children are always Hope” and “Abolish Abortion Law.”

The organisers said about 5,000 people joined the event. A number of priests took part in it, including Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka who also celebrated a mass in St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle, which preceded the march.

The 17th National March for Life and Family was organised by the Hnuti pro zivot CR (Pro-Life Movement Czech Republic).

“Women do not have an abortion because they would wish it. They are forced to have it by the circumstances, such as their partner’s disinterest and concerns about their future. We want to be a society in which people care for one another,” the movement’s deputy head Zdenka Rybova told CTK.

The state supports mainly poor families and single mothers rather than functioning families, Rybova said. “The aim is to support a healthy family in the social climate. This does not mean welfare benefits but social credit,” she said.

Rybova criticised the new family policy drafted by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry, labelling it “anti-family.”

The draft concept includes increases in maternity pay and parental benefits, higher tax exemptions for parents, free public kindergartens and nurseries and advantageous loans for young families. It also allows for artificial fertilisation of women without partners.

Small groups of young people opposing the pro-life activists waited at several places through which the marchers passed. They displayed banners such as “Safe Sex is No Sin,” “Orgasm is more than Nation” or “Jesus Had Two Dads Too.” No incident occurred between the two camps.

The number of abortions has been decreasing in the country for many years. In 1989, 10.8 abortions per 1,000 inhabitants were registered. In 2010 this figure went down to 2.3 abortions per 1,000 inhabitants and in 2015 it was 1.9 abortions. Last year, the Czech Statistical Office registered 20,300 abortions, compared with 20,400 in 2015 and 24,000 in 2010.