Polish legislators debated a citizen-led bill this week that would ban almost all abortions and protect unborn babies’ right to life. And in an initial vote on the measure has been approved.
The strong Catholic country already prohibits most abortions. Unlike most of Europe, abortions are legal in Poland in only 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.
The new citizen-led bill, which has wide support from the public, top government officials and the Catholic Church, would prohibit abortions except when the mother’s life is in jeopardy. It would criminalize abortion for causing the “death of a conceived child.” Doctors who do abortions could face jail time of up to five years.
On Thursday, the Polish Parliament began debating the draft legislation. Today, the “Stop Abortion” citizens’ initiative, which had received 450,000 signatures from Polish Citizens, has cleared its first hurdle in the parliamentary process by a very wide margin.
As Stephen Phelan of Human Life International told LifeNews:
The “Stop Abortion” proposal was one of three citizens initiatives—proposals that receive over 100,000 signatures—considered by the Polish Parliament this morning. Also considered were the “Deputies bill in defense of life and the health of unborn children conceived in vitro” to regulate the in vitro fertilization industry; and the “Save Women” initiative, which would have liberalized Poland’s very restrictive abortion laws.
Members of Parliament voted 267 – 154 to send the “Stop Abortion” proposal to commissions, which means that it will be debated for an indefinite period, before a final bill is written and put to a parliamentary vote. The proposal was passed by such a wide margin that it is very likely that a pro-life law will ultimately be passed.
The opposing “Save Women” citizens’ initiative was voted down by a vote of 230-173. Central to the proposal was the liberalization of abortion laws for health of the mother and fetal deformity up to 24 weeks.
Importantly, this was a “conscience vote”—so there was no party pressure, and members of parliament were allowed to vote their conscience. This is believed to more accurately reflect the will of parliament and those they represent.
“We are very pleased to see such a strong vote for life, especially since members know they will be facing economic threats from the European Union,” said Ewa Kowalewska, director of HLI Poland. “With this vote you see the heart of the Polish people, since MPs were allowed to vote their conscience.”
The battle now becomes one of helping the Polish people understand the attacks that are about to come from the EU and from left wing media and NGOs funded by George Soros. It is widely known that Mr. Soros has poured millions into saving the left wing Polish newspaper from bankruptcy, and that he funds the radical opposition to pro-life bills. Sadly, they have been successful with their propaganda campaigns, especially among young people.
Poland has excellent maternal health care; our maternal mortality statistics are among the lowest in the world even though we have—indeed, because we have—strong restrictions on abortion, so the pro-abortion effort’s branding as ‘Save Women’ is extremely dishonest.
Ours is a very pro-life society that wants to protect women’s health even as we eliminate exceptions on abortion that are used to deceive people. This is why the other side focuses on eugenics, or demanding unlimited abortion because of the tiny number of children born with serious disabilities. But killing a child does not cure him and does not prevent disease. We reject eugenics and want to work with all people of good will to continue to improve all health care options for women and mothers.
There is a great irony that critics of the pro-life initiative say that the very popular effort, which obviously passed with a very wide margin in the democratic process and gained a huge number of signatures—is ‘anti-democratic.’ These radical groups are funded by billionaires from outside our nation, they lost a democratic vote, and they are saying that this is a ‘failure of democracy.’ This is quite obviously absurd, and for the unelected European Union powers to start repeating this absurd claim is insulting not only to the Polish people, but to all thinking people who value democracy.
Here’s more from The Wall Street Journal
During Thursday’s opening debate, law professor Joanna Banasiuk defended the bill on behalf of its authors. “Abortion means a massacre of children,“ she said. ”It means hell for women and moral discredit for men, first imposed by Hitler’s thugs and then introduced by the Communist regime on a mass scale,” she added, referring to the decision by Nazi German occupying forces during World War II to give Polish women access to abortion, a policy continued after the war.
The bill has wide-spread support. Almost half a million Polish citizens signed the bill, and a new poll found that 58 percent of Poles support a ban on abortion, according to the report.
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Two leading government officials also 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.
The conservative Law and Justice party also has been supporting increased government spending on programs to help children and their families, the report states.
Catholic leaders have been among the most vocal advocates for the legislation to protect unborn babies. In April, 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.”
Abortion activists are fighting against the pro-life effort with their own bill, which would legalize abortion on demand up until 12 weeks of pregnancy, Radio Poland reports. However, news reports predict that Parliament will reject the pro-abortion bill.
This week, Polish abortion activists also launched a new campaign called #CzarnyProtest, or “Black Protest,” encouraging people to wear black and post photos on social media in opposition to the pro-life bill, the Russian news outlet RT reports.
Some of them could be seen outside the Polish Parliament building on Thursday as they protested the the pro-life legislation. Pro-lifers also were gathered there to pray and be a voice for unborn babies.
The pro-life 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.