by Steven Ertelt
November 9, 2004
Warsaw, Poland (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life leaders in Poland are upset that the United Nations is sticking its nose into an internal debate about the state of the European nation’s abortion law.
At the end of October, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, held meetings about Polish law and a new bill that would further allow abortions there.
In a report released by its office, Jaime Ruiz de Santiago, a senior U.N. official in Poland, said he was worried that Polish law was driving women to have illegal abortions, that abortions are not being performed when permitted in cases of rape, and he said no information exists on when doctors use the conscience clause to refuse to perform a legal abortion.
"The State Party should liberalize its legislation and practice on abortion," the document recommended.
Poland reinstituted its pro-life law in the early 1990s after decades of abortion on demand during Communist rule. Polish law now only allows abortions in rare cases where there is a severe fetal deformity, the woman’s life is in danger because of the pregnancy, or she is a victim of rape.
The memo is upsetting to pro-life advocates who say the U.N. has no business interfering with the abortion debate in Poland.
"This is an attempt to influence Polish parliament to adopt the anti-life bill which is in the working," says Lech Kowalewski, a Polish pro-life leader associated with Human Life International.
But pro-abortion political leaders in Poland welcomed the report.
"These regulations have to be changed but that needs serious discussion," Cezary Mizejewski, secretary of state at the Social Affairs Ministry, told Reuters. "It is good that we have (the U.N.) report and it will reopen this discussion."
A bill sponsored by the ruling Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) would allow any abortions up to 12 weeks into pregnancy. It has not yet had a hearing in the Polish parliament.
Center-right political parties, with backing from the Catholic Church, and conservatives such as the Polish League of Families oppose the bill.
In June of last year, the Dutch abortion ship paid a visit to the eastern European nation to highlight its pro-life laws and offer dangerous abortion drugs to pregnant women.
Poland initially refused to let the abortion ship dock into a northern port.
"We will not allow the murder of unborn children in Poland," news agency PAP quoted Robert Strak, a member of the Polish parliament, as saying.
Poland is one of the few European countries where abortion is more restricted and Polish Pope John Paul II, head of the world’s billion Catholics and a staunch opponent of abortion, is widely regarded as the country’s greatest moral authority.