Poland Proposes New Law Banning All Abortions and Protecting Unborn Children

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Sep 19, 2016   |   10:26AM   |   Washington, DC

The Polish Parliament is scheduled to consider a new bill this week that would provide more protections for unborn babies by banning all abortions.

The strong Catholic country already prohibits most abortions. In Poland, 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 Down syndrome and other disabilities have been legally aborted under the current law.

The new citizen-led bill, which has wide support from the public and several leading government officials, would prohibit all abortions except when the mother’s life is in jeopardy. The bill would criminalize abortion for causing the “death of a conceived child.” Doctors who do abortions and women who have them could face jail time of up to five years.

On Sunday, pro-abortion groups held a protest outside the parliament building in Warsaw to demand that legislators reject the bill, New Europe reports. One report said there were hundreds of people at the pro-abortion protest, while another said there were “thousands” in the crowd.

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A pro-abortion campaign called “Save Women” collected about 215,000 signatures for an opposing citizen-led bill that would legalize abortion on demand up until 12 weeks of pregnancy, Radio Poland reports. In contrast, the pro-life bill has about 450,000 signatures, according to the report.

The pro-abortion groups said the pro-life bill would be dangerous because it could risk women’s lives and force young girls who had been raped or subjected to incest to choose between giving birth and going to jail, according to New Europe. They also argued that the bill would drive women to have dangerous, back alley abortions.

Here’s more from the report:

“The existing law is one of the most restrictive in Europe,” Krystyna Kacpuro, director of the Federation of Women and Family Planning, said. “Getting access to their legal abortion rights is already a hard road for many women. For example, in Podkarpackie region in southern Poland, all the hospitals and doctors have signed a conscientious objection letter refusing to carry them out.

“So effectively we already have no legal abortions in Poland. But at least women are not yet criminalised. And if there is a real threat to a pregnant woman’s life, the doctor will save her.”

Mariusz Dzierżawski, the head of Poland’s Stop Abortion committee, said 58% of Poles backed the proposed new law, adding that it was necessary because “about 1,000 unborn children are legally killed in Poland each year”.

He said: “Being suspected of having Down’s syndrome is enough to be killed. It must change. We do not fear abortion supporters as they are weak and there are few of them. The pro-life movement is much stronger in our country. We will force the politicians to ban killing people.”

Polish legislators plan to consider the bill on Wednesday, according to the reports.

The Sunday protest is one of many that pro-abortion groups have been waging ever since the pro-life bill was first proposed in the spring.

The citizen bill began gaining attention last winter after a horrific story came to light about 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. Some news outlets reported that the baby may have been aborted because of Down syndrome, but that was not confirmed.

Two leading government officials already have spoke up in support of the pro-life 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 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.

Also in April, Catholic Church leaders 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.”