A newborn baby’s death after a botched abortion in Poland has sparked global outrage and renewed calls for protections for babies in the European nation.
Last week, The Global Dispatch reported that a hospital in Warsaw is being accused of allowing a viable, late-term baby to die without care after the child survived a failed abortion. Witnesses said doctors and medical staff at the Holy Family Hospital left the newborn to die on March 7, possibly because the baby had Down syndrome, the report states.
Horrifically, witnesses said the newborn cried and screamed for an hour before dying, according to Republika Television. Reports do not indicate if the child was male or female.
Christian Today reports officials are investigating the hospital. Michael Dziekański, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said the office will examine whether the hospital broke the law, which requires medical care to be given to a baby who survives an abortion if they are capable of living outside the womb. The baby reportedly was just under 24 weeks gestation, which is generally considered the point of viability.
Hospital spokesperson Dorota Jaslowska-Niemyska previously said the hospital staff followed the law, and respected the dignity of the patient and the fetus. When asked about the baby who had been born alive, Jaslowska-Niemyska said: “Those are details which I can’t talk about. It is confidential, and I am not allowed to comment on the details of this procedure.”
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Outraged by the incident, the Polish Federation of Pro-Life Movements is calling on parliament to tighten abortion laws. According to the report, a special committee in the Polish parliament already is working on a bill to make abortion illegal in all cases except the life of the mother. In Poland, abortion currently is legal in cases of rape, life or health of the mother or severe fetal deformities.
The bill would make it illegal to perform abortions and would punish abortionists with up to five years in jail, instead of the current maximum of two years, according to Yahoo News. It needs 100,000 signatures to be examined by parliament, the report states.
Abortion activists in Poland have been quick to attack the bill.
“To adopt this text on abortion would be a violation of human rights and women’s rights,” pro-abortion activist Kazimiera Szczuka told AFP. “Were we to see many children born with serious health problems, this will represent a considerable cost for hospitals.”
Szczuka’s statements point to a larger problem of discrimination against people with disabilities like Down syndrome in the Polish health care system. Reports indicate that an abortion was attempted on the Warsaw baby because the child tested positive for Down syndrome. Abortions for cases of Down syndrome and other disabilities are legal up until viability in Poland.
In 2014, pro-life Polish journalist Natalia Dueholm wrote at LifeNews about another baby with Down syndrome who was born alive after a botched abortion. The baby girl was even younger than the Warsaw baby, at just 22 weeks gestation; but she was more fortunate. In her case, the Wrocław hospital called in neonatologists to help her survive.
Around the same time as the Wroclaw case, a mother of a child with Down syndrome urged the Polish Parliament to outlaw eugenic abortions, Dueholm reported. Kaja Godek, a pro-life advocate, received a standing ovation for her speech about her child’s value; however, the country also is facing pressure from abortion activists to legalize even more abortions.
In the U.S., some states also are trying to protect unborn babies from eugenic abortions based on disabilities. Last week, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a law to ban abortions based on an unborn baby’s disability or sex. In 2013, North Dakota became the first state to pass a similar bill to protect unborn babies from abortions because of disabilities. A handful of states also ban abortions based solely on the baby’s sex.