by Carrie Beliles, International Relations Specialist
Kristijan Aufiero is a breath of fresh air and quickly becoming one of the most powerful communicators and effective organizers for the pro-life movement in Europe. Based out of Heidelberg, the pro-life organization he leads is called Pro Femina ("For the Woman") and has been in existence since 1986.
However, it has grown exponentially under Kristijan's leaderhip in the last five years. It was named Pro Femina in response to the Planned Parenthood affiliate in Germany which is called Pro Familia ("For the Family"). Aufiero says "If they are for the family, then we are for the woman!"
An affiliate of Heartbeat International, Pro Femina is an uncompromising grassroots organization that now runs 320 baby bottle drives at churches across Germany with grassroots volunteers and collected 15,000 bottles last year. They grew this drive from only 28 baby bottle drives in 2010.
Mr. Aufiero's excellence in google analytics and fundraising has caused the organization to grow tremendously through its own organic fundraising, and its websites draw in German speakers in Germany, Austria, and Swizterland and elsewhere around the world who type in keywords related to abortion and unplanned pregnancy. When German speakers type in these terms, Pro Femina's subtle but excellent website is often first or second on the google hits. They receive 30,000 views a month on their webpage from German speakers, 360,000 approximately per year and growing.
This website leads abortion-vulnerable women to often chat about these issues in a forum, and email or speak on the phone with one of the 16 full-time, professionally trained, pro-life counselors based out of the Pro Femina Heidelberg office. They also see clients face-to-face in that office, although since they counsel clients across Germany and the German-speaking world, the phone is their primary method of communication. They counseled 2,200 women last year alone.
Since they are growing by leaps and bounds, they are expanding by opening a new pregnancy help center this September in Munich, one of the largest cities in Germany, and also where Aufiero was born and raised by Italian and Croatian parents.
As a German with Italian and Croatian parents, Aufiero is particularly well-suited to speaking to this issue to Europeans of all kinds. An unapologetic pro-lifer, his counselors do not provide the documentation that would enables their clients to go to obtain abortion in Germany.
In Germany, counseling before an abortion is still mandatory and has been ever since abortion was formally legalized in the first trimester in 1991 when Germany was reunified. Prior to 1991, abortion had technically been illegal for all trimesters, although a doctor's note that the woman was undergoing undue stress or psychological problems from the pregnancy would allow a woman to receive an abortion in the first trimester. When West Germany reunified with East Germany in 1991, East Germany had typically liberal Soviet bloc laws on abortion and the current framework was a compromise between the two systems.
Aufiero's counselors do not provide this document of counseling to their clients because they feel they would then be participating in or facilitating in an abortion and thus participants in this act.
When my husband, Ben, and I visited Aufiero in his Heidelberg office this April, he explained that he feared that the laws in Germany were moving toward an even more pro-choice and anti-life position in the near future. But he also affirmed that they would keep fighting for every unborn child's life in the meantime.
A devout Catholic, Aufiero's organization has both Catholic and Protestant employees and is a wonderful example of Catholics and Protestants working together in the name of Christ to end abortion.
Tweet this! Pro Femina is an example of Catholics and Protestants working together in the name of Christ to end abortion.
Aufiero has also created a wonderful communication method for spreading the positive message of life. He calls it "German words" and it consists of postcards printed by Pro Femina which have pictures of beautiful little newborns in entertaining outfits with catchy, positive messages of children on them such as "World Cup Champions 2034," "The Future Chancellor of Germany 2067," and other cute messages that highlight that children are the future and must be preserved and appreciated.
This is all the more important in a country such as Germany where the birth rate is 1.3 children per woman, well below replacement rate.
Over a million of these pithy postcards have been mailed throughout Germany by supporters of the organization - and others who just find them charming. In so doing, the pro-life message has been spread throughout Germany without spending a cent. Supporters buy these postcards for small donations and use them as stationery for their messages. It is a brilliant, low-cost method of propagating the pro-life message that has quickly become well-known throughout the English-speaking world and needs to be utilized in other languages and countries.
We are confident Aufiero will soon be crafting new and better ways of communicating the pro-life message.
Aufiero is willing to use the newest technologies and strategies to mold a pro-life message that will shape the next generation in Europe, a place without many strong pro-life voices and where most pro-life messages are marginalized and labeled extreme. Aufiero is a leader and Pro Femina is an organization that is growing and needs our support to answer the problems of abortion in Germany and Europe in the 21st Century.