Thousands of pro-lifers rallied in cities across Poland on Sunday to call for restored protections for unborn babies from the moment of conception.
The Guardian reports a Polish pro-life NGO based in Warsaw organized the nation-wide protests to support a citizen-lead bill that would ban all abortions except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger. In Poland, abortion is legal in cases of rape, life or health of the mother or severe fetal deformities.
“Today we are calling on our state authorities to guarantee full legal protection of unborn children,” said Paweł Kwaśniak, the head of the pro-life group, during a rally at the capital. He said pro-life rallies also were held in 140 other Polish towns and cities on Sunday.
The theme was “Every life is priceless,” according to Radio Poland. The event was organized to coenside with the UN International Day of Families on May 15, the report states.
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For the pro-life bill to be considered by the government, citizens need to collect 100,000 signatures. Given recent history, that should not be hard to do. Deutsche Welle reports in 2011, Polish pro-life groups collected more than 500,000 citizens’ signatures for a similar bill, but the parliament rejected it.
Passage appears more hopeful this time. Two leading government officials already have spoke up in support of the measure. Poland Prime Minister Beata Szydlo told Radio Poland that she supports the citizen bill, and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the ruling Law and Justice Party in Poland, said he plans to follow the Catholic leaders’ call to pass the measure. In April, more than 100 Polish journalists also signed an open letter to the members of the parliament, supporting the ban and encouraging legislators to change the current law.
In April, Catholic Church leaders also urged legislators to pass the measure, and Polish priests read a statement from the pulpit in support of the bill, LifeNews reported.
“Catholics’ position on this is clear, and unchangeable. One needs to protect every person’s life from conception to natural death,” the Polish bishops said in the statement. “We ask the lawmakers and the government to initiate the legislation.”
However, some pro-abortion feminist groups already have staged protests against the citizen bill, claiming it would lead to dangerous back alley abortions and force women to travel to other countries to have abortions. In most European countries, abortion is legal in the first trimester.
According to the German news outlet: “The Federation for Women and Family Planning estimates that about 150,000 illegal abortions are performed each year. Legal abortions in Poland, which has a population of 38 million, are limited to around 700 to 1,800 per year. The National Health Fund says there were more than 1,800 abortions in 2014, compared to 1,350 in 2013.” However, there are no official figures about the number of illegal abortions in Poland, and pro-abortion groups have been known in the past to over-inflate illegal abortion estimates.
The citizen bill began gaining more attention this winter after the horrific story of a late-term baby who allegedly was born alive after a failed abortion attempt at a Warsaw hospital and screamed for an hour as it was left to die.