Thousands join anti-abortion rallies in Romania, Moldova

March for Life demonstrators in Bucharest, the capital of Romania which has one of the highest abortion rates within Europe

Several thousands of people took to the streets of Romania and Moldova in an anti-abortion March for Life on Saturday, including 2,000 in Bucharest, police said.

According to the organisers, rallies took place in more than 300 towns across the two countries.

"Women deserve better than abortion," read one of the banners, while others said: "Life for the woman and life for the family."

In the Romanian capital Bucharest, young people joined with families and the elderly at a rally also attended by many priests from the powerful Orthodox church.

"This word 'abortion' should not exist -- it goes hand-in-hand with horror and death," said a demonstrator called Alexandru Darie.

"It should be banned."

Abortion was banned in Romania during the communist regime of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who was killed in 1989 after a popular rebellion pushed him from power.

It was then legalised in 1990. That year, as many as 992,000 abortions were registered, three times the number of births.

Since then, the number of abortions has gradually decreased, although Romania has one of the highest rates within Europe.

"I don't believe that we should ban it by law, like under communism, but we should promote education and prevention to prevent unwanted pregnancies," said another demonstrator called Yulia Tapardel.