Polish lawmakers rejected another attempt Wednesday to strip away protections for unborn babies in their pro-life country.
AFP reports Polish MPs voted against a draft bill that would have legalized abortions for any reason up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Much to the irritation of abortion activists, lawmakers also voted to move forward with a pro-life bill that would prohibit eugenic abortions on unborn babies with disabilities, Reuters reports.
Poland protects unborn babies’ lives in most cases. Abortion is legal in cases of rape and incest, the life or health of the mother or severe fetal deformities – though “severe” is widely defined and unborn babies with disabilities like Down syndrome can be aborted. The Polish Ministry of Health reported 1,040 abortions in 2015.
The new pro-life bill has wide-spread public support. A citizen-led measure, pro-life organizers said they gathered eight times the number of signatures necessary to propose the bill to parliament.
The Polish Constitution allows citizens to submit bills to the legislature if they receive at least 100,000 signatures.
Here’s more from AFP:
According to Kaja Godek, one of the initiators of the “Zatrzymaj aborcje” (Stop Abortion) proposal, deformation of the foetus was the reason behind 96 percent of the legal abortions carried out in Poland in 2016. …
Godek told AFP that her group’s proposal was signed by 830,000 people in two months.
President Andrzej Duda, who is close to the Catholic Church, vowed in November to sign the initiative into law if it is adopted “in order to abolish the right to kill children with Down syndrome”.
Barbara Nowacka, an abortion activist and politician who introduced the pro-abortion bill, complained about the pro-life legislation.
“What’s worse is that they are going to work on a draft law that forces women to … give birth to beings that are very often destined to die in huge suffering,” Nowicka said.
Abortion activists have been attacking the bill since news of the citizen-led measure broke last year.
Anna Brengos, a public relations specialist at the Children Help Civic Foundation, told Euro News in 2017: “Bearing in mind that the Polish welfare system is currently failing to provide for every patient, not to mention children with severe disabilities, the annual birth of a further 1,000 babies suffering from terminal illness would simply mean that it will not be the government who will carry the burden of the responsibility and provide for the child, but the families and charities.”
However, Krzysztof Michałkiewicz, of the Government Plenipotentiary for Disabled People at the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy, responded that the government is increasing support through the “For Life” program. He said more could be done, but the program is a start.
The “For Life” program gives families €930 ($1,000) when they give birth to a child with disabilities to help with medical care and other expenses, according to the report.
A strong Catholic country, Poland has been debating a complete abortion ban for years. In 2016, massive abortion protests prompted lawmakers to back away from legislation to support unborn babies’ right to life in all cases.