The post-Communist country has grasped what is fundamental: a respect for life

There is cheering political news from Hungary. As reported by the Rome TV news agency, Hungary’s new constitution (since April) emphasises the country’s Christian roots by stating that life begins at conception and that all its citizens have a right to life. Gregor Puppinck, the director of the European Centre for Law and Justice, comments: “There are many debates in Europe over values… What do we believe in? Hungary has given us a strong message that values such as family, life, Christianity are important.”

Hungary’s capital, Budapest, now displays posters with the image on an unborn child and the wording: “I understand you are not ready to welcome me into your life, but give me to an adoption service. Let me live.” Cynics say that the real motive behind this laudable initiative is that Hungary’s birth rate is perilously low: 1.3 births per woman, when a ratio of 2.1 is needed to maintain the population.

I don’t think it matters if realpolitik is involved here. What matters is the positive message being sent out to the Hungarian citizenry. In Britain we pride ourselves on having an unwritten constitution. What is the point of it if our fundamental values, the basis of any healthy society, are skewed? I have been following the debates over the reform of the NHS with interest; ditto the debates over Michael Gove’s reform of the educational system. Both require a massive overhaul that is long overdue. But such reforms are secondary; what is primary is the fundamental principle of respect for life that Hungary has grasped.

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Hungary suffered during the War and then under Communism; to be prosperous they now know they need a healthy birth rate. We, too, suffered during the War; luckily for us we remained a free country and in the post-War decades we experienced a previously unheard-of prosperity, dominated by the mantra, “You’ve never had it so good”. It has made us too comfortable, too individualistic, too selfish; indifferent to the unborn and callous to the elderly. Let’s take a lesson from Hungary. Let’s ask ourselves, what do we really believe in?

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