Poland: Lawmaker Proposes New Law Banning All Abortions and Protecting Unborn Children

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Oct 14, 2016   |   4:08PM   |   Warsaw, Poland

A week after the Polish Parliament struck down a bill to ban all abortions, the leader of the ruling party promised to find other ways to protect unborn babies’ lives.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the Polish Law and Justice Party, said he will strive to ensure that fewer unborn babies lose their lives to abortion in Poland, according to Breitbart.

“Currently there are around 1,000 legal abortions in Poland, a huge number of which is due to Down syndrome,” Kaczynski told the PAP news agency. “We hope that this will not be the case soon. That’s our goal. We have to prepare it well though. We also have to convince society, especially women, and we will do it.”

He said he supports legislation to ban discriminatory abortions based on an unborn baby’s diagnosis, as long as there are exceptions for the life and health of the mother.

“We will strive to ensure that even difficult pregnancies — when the child is sure to die, severely deformed — will result in birth so that the child can be baptised, buried, and have a name,” he continued.

Poland, a strong Catholic country, currently prohibits most abortions. 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 disabilities like Down syndrome legally can be aborted under the current law.

Last week, Polish MPs struck down a citizen-led bill that would have prohibited abortions except when the mother’s life is in jeopardy. The bill would have criminalized abortion for causing the “death of a conceived child” and penalized those involved in the unborn child’s death.

The bill began gaining attention a year ago 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.

The pro-life bill appeared to have strong support from the Polish people. Almost half a million citizens signed the bill, and a recent poll found that 58 percent of Poles support a ban on abortions, according to The Wall Street Journal. However, Poland has been facing continued pressure from pro-abortion groups, the United Nations and others to expand its legalization of abortions.

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Parliament rejected the pro-life bill just days after abortion activists staged massive protests in Poland and other parts of Europe. Some of the Czarny Protests, or Black Protests, turned violent. Police in Poland detained seven pro-abortion protesters for violence, and five police officers were injured during the protests, according to Radio Poland. At one point in Warsaw, abortion activists also blocked access to the ruling Law and Justice Party headquarters, Reuters reported.

The BBC speculated that the pro-abortion protests, attended by tens of thousands of people, swayed a number of MPs’ votes. Just a few weeks ago, the Polish MPs voted 267 to 154 to support the pro-life measure by moving it to committee for further review.

Kaczynski faced criticism after Parliament rejected the pro-life bill. The Wall Street Journal reported the party leader “threw his weight against the total ban, saying it was a risky proposition that could lead to full access to abortion in the future when the political tide turns.”

Just before the vote, Catholic bishops in Poland also issued a statement announcing that they disagreed with a measure in the bill that would have punished women who have abortions, according to reports. The Catholic leaders emphasized that they do oppose abortion and support legislation that would protect unborn babies’ lives, but women should not be punished.

Last week, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, who previously spoke up in support the pro-life bill, promised that she also will work on other ways to protect human life, including offering more government support for families of disabled children and launching an educational campaign to “promote the protection of life.”