A pro-life voice in the abortion capital of the world
by Susan Olasky
Posted 2/03/15, 02:15 pm
BUCHAREST, Romania—The nation of Romania has the highest abortion rate in all of Europe. From the late 1960s to the late 1980s, communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu strongly suppressed the killing of unborn Romanian children. That was not because he believed in the sanctity of human life, but because he wanted to build up the Romanian population to support his dictatorial aims.
After Ceausescu was overthrown in a violent revolution in 1989, the abortion rate in Romania skyrocketed, with many citizens equating free access to abortion with political freedom. Now, a Romanian legislator is trying to change public attitudes by being an eloquent voice for life. Florica Chereches is a frequent speaker at the March for Life in her hometown of Oradea.
Since 2012, Chereches has been a member of the Chamber of Deputies, part of Romania’s Parliament. She is one of a handful of evangelical lawmakers. The story of how she got there explains why she has a special interest in family issues.
In 1980, when she was 20, Chereches married a cello player who was also a teacher. She worked as an engineer, and they had two children.
“Everything was balanced,” she said.
But in 1991, she faced a series of crises. First, she lost her job. Then she discovered she was pregnant with her third child. The worst blow came when her husband died in a car accident.
“I was unemployed, I was pregnant in five months, and I was widowed,” Chereches said.
The crisis became a time of spiritual growth. It became the heart of the story she shares when she gives her testimony. She offers suffering women her recipe for success: “Believe in God, trust yourself, and work hard.”
After her husband’s death, Chereches gave birth to her third child, and life went on. She taught and later found work as a translator to support her family. Two years after her first husband died, she remarried.
After a two-year maternity leave, Chereches accepted a position to set up and lead a charity designed to help women in crisis.
“I just felt that, it is now my turn to go and help and encourage other women because if I was able to start over in my personal, family, and professional life, other women can also,” she said. She became an advocate for better vocational training and worked closely with city officials. In 2008, she accepted an invitation to join the city council. Then she became deputy mayor.
“I accepted only because I realized that the political party and the city council would give me a higher platform to influence the community and the society around me,” she said.
In 2012, people encouraged her to run for Parliament, and she won. She continues to promote vocational training. But she also uses her position to fight for traditional marriage and a better adoption system for Romania’s 60,000 abandoned children.
Chereches believes life begins at conception, but she says she doesn’t want to argue about that. She says too many Romanian women don’t know what abortion does to them or their unborn babies. So she’s supporting a law that would require mandatory counseling before abortion. She wants counselors to explain abortion and its consequences, offer alternatives, and teach them to avoid conceiving children in the future.
But even that modest proposal drew pro-abortion attacks. For now, she is learning to be patient with the slow pace of the legislative process. The real changes will have to happen in Romanian hearts, long hardened to the reality of abortion. But Chereches says there’s a place for parliamentary action also.
“Jesus called us to be salt and light and didn’t put any limits,” she says. “So we need just to accept it and try to be salt and light, even in the Parliament or at the local level.”
Listen to Susan Olaksy’s report on Florica Chereches on The World and Everything in It.