Despite intense pressure from abortion activists, Polish President Andrzej Duda promised this weekend to support a bill that would restrict abortions on unborn babies with disabilities, Radio Poland reports.
The news comes just a few weeks after abortion activists staged huge, violent protests against a proposed bill to protect unborn babies by banning all abortions in Poland. Members of Parliament voted to reject the bill just days after the mass protests.
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.
President Duda said the current laws are “ineffective” in protecting unborn babies from abortion.
“I believe that the lives of these children are too poorly protected at the moment,” Duda said in an interview with TV station Polsat News.
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Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo also is advocating for better protections for unborn babies and their families. According to the report, Szydlo announced a new program called “Pro-Life” on Friday that will provide more support to families raising children with disabilities.
She said she hopes the program will encourage more families to choose life for babies who have medical needs.
The abortion issue began gaining attention last winter in Poland 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.
The pro-life bill rejected by Parliament has strong support from the Polish people. Almost half a million citizens signed the citizen-led bill, and a recent poll found that 58 percent of Poles support a ban on abortions, according to The Wall Street Journal.
However, pro-abortion groups, the United Nations and others are pushing the country to stop protecting unborn babies’ lives and expand its legalization of abortions. More pro-abortion protests have occurred in Poland since Parliament rejected the pro-life bill. 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 Oct. 3 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 earlier, the Polish MPs had voted 267 to 154 to move forward with the pro-life measure.