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Germany's annual march against abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research has provoked fierce opposition from rights groups. Counter-demonstrators called for easier access to abortions across Germany.
Thousands of people gathered in Berlin over the weekend to protest against abortion and euthanasia laws at the annual "March for Life," one of Germany's largest rallies against the right to abortion.
Carrying crosses and balloons, demonstrators marched through the center of Berlin on Saturday for the 17th year in a row.
One banner read: "For a Europe without abortion and euthanasia."
The Bundesverband Lebensrecht (BVL), an association made up of 15 organizations behind the event, said about 4,500 demonstrators turned up to Saturday's march. Police estimated the number of attendees to have been "in the low to mid four-digit range." Around 1,000 police officers were on duty that day.
Members of the German Bishops' Conference (DBK) also participated in the march. The Roman Catholic group criticized the European Parliament for calling access to abortion a human right.
A counter-demonstration demanding women's rights took place around Brandenburg Gate.
The Alliance for Sexual Self-Determination as well as a number of feminist movements called for unrestricted abortion rights in Germany.
Police kept the two groups apart, adding that the demonstrations remained peaceful.
A representative of the German Union for Journalists (DJU) tweeted about an attack on one of its members present at the demonstration, but police could not confirm the attack, the German Press Agency (DPA) reported.
BVL Chairwoman Alexandra Maria Linder said her pro-life movement had been able to "achieve a lot" in recent years. She said there was no majority in the Bundesrat (upper house of the German parliament) on Friday in favor of scrapping the country's legal ban on advertizing abortions.
Linder also called efforts in the US to legally ban abortions from the sixth week of pregnancy as "great progress."
The march was concluded by an ecumenical service led by the Catholic Bishop of Görlitz, Wolfgang Ipolt, and the Berlin Serbian Orthodox priest Veljko Gacic. During the service, Ipolt opposed the right to abortion demanded by the EU Parliament, as well as assisted suicide.
mvb/sms (dpa, KNA, EPD)