Poland: Midwife Ordered to Pay $17,000 After Opposing Abortions at Her Hospital

International   |   Natalia Dueholm   |   Mar 21, 2014   |   5:37PM   |   Warsaw, Poland

How much does the truth cost?  For a Polish midwife, it could cost up to 50,000 złotych (approximately $17,000).

The management of a private Polish hospital has threatened legal action against Agata Rejman, a midwife, after she discussed abortions performed at the Specialist Hospital Pro-Familia (right) in Rzeszów.

polandRejman’s legal troubles began after a January 2014 press conference organized by Senator Kazimierz Jaworski.  During the conference, Rejman described her anguish after having to participate in abortions at the hospital.

Staring down and struggling to hold back tears, the mother of two described her trauma.  “For me (abortion) is killing,” she said. “It is taking a life…. I do not want to do it….And I can’t cope with it.”

She explained that the Polish conscience clause gives her the right to refuse participation in certain medical procedures.  Rejman told LifeNews that 36 midwives from the Pro-Familia hospital had also signed the conscience clause.

Nobody had told Rejman, nor could she ever have imagined, that abortions would be performed at this hospital.  For one thing, abortion in Poland is illegal in most cases.  Additionally, high moral standards could be expected in a medical facility which had been blessed by a local bishop during its opening ceremony in 2011.

The medical director of the hospital does not seem to care about the midwife’s traumatic experience.  Instead, medical director Janusz Kidacki complained to the media that Rejman’s press conference had shocked the hospital management.  The manager of the hospital, Radosław Skiba, sent Rejman a letter alleging that her action was aimed at damaging the image and reputation of the clinic.  He demanded retraction of “false statements”, most importantly regarding “killing children”.  He also demanded that she pay 50,000 złotych (approximately $17,000) for a children’s hospice. The letter threatens to initiate legal action if Rejman does not comply with these demands.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlthough the hospital demanded retraction of Rejman’s “false statements”, it did not respond to an e-mail asking to specify what information was inaccurate.

On his website, Senator Jaworski called the clinic’s reaction “revenge”. Rejman told LifeNews that she had informed the hospital about her objection even before she went public. Immediately after taking part in her third abortion, Rejman said she had talked to the doctor, but the hospital did not follow up. For days onward nobody addressed her concerns.

The hospital did admit to having performed three “terminations of pregnancy” since December 2013.  In fact, Pro-Familia signed a contract with the National Health Fund (Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia) for gynecological services, prenatal diagnostics and abortion procedures.

The hospital’s decision has moral consequences that will not be swept under the rug by gagging and suing an employee.

Jacek Kotula, an activist from The Right to Life Foundation (Fundacja PRO- Prawo do życia), explained that his group would organize many protests if the hospital does not stop its practice.

Kotula also argued that the hospital had shamed the city.  He explained to LifeNews that the Rzeszów area, Podkarpacie, is the most Catholic region in Poland, with 2/3 of the electorate voting for conservative and Catholic parties.  Additionally, it has the highest birth rate and rate of mass attendance. Kotula added that Podkarpacie produces the highest number of priests per capita in the world.  Regional government meetings even start with a prayer for the Nation.

This is all good news for Rejman.  Her supporters have created a Facebook page on her behalf entitled “You are not Alone” (Nie jesteś sama: https://www.facebook.com/Solidarni.z.polozna). Furthermore, an association of lawyers, ethicists and midwives was created in March (www.recezycia.pl). The group’s aim is to help medical personnel understand and properly exercise the conscience clause.  According to the organizers, the law is often a dead letter since hospital employees fear losing their jobs and are therefore afraid to use it.

This moral support is now accompanied by more practical help.  Rejman has legal representation and will not be intimidated by threats.

LifeNews Note: Natalia Dueholm is a Polish journalist, an editor of a quarterly “Opcja na Prawo”. She wrote an Open Letter of Women Journalists Against Abortion (available also in English). Picture credit: stopaborcji.pl (One of the demonstrations in front of the Pro-Familia hospital in Rzeszów, Poland)