Lawmakers in Poland are scheduled to consider pro-life legislation this week to protect unborn babies with disabilities from discrimination.
According to the pro-abortion group Human Rights Watch, MPs plan to discuss the “Stop Abortion” bill either Wednesday or Thursday.
Unlike most of Europe, Poland protects unborn babies from abortion in most cases. It allows exceptions for rape, incest, fetal anomalies and risks to the mother’s life or health.
The “Stop Abortion” bill, which MP Elzbieta Witek submitted this week, would end the exception for fetal anomalies and protect unborn babies with disabilities from discrimination. The ruling Law and Justice party, which is pro-life, supports the bill, as does President Andrzej Duda.
“I believe that killing children with disabilities is simply murder. If a project opposing this issue will find itself on my desk, I will certainly sign it,” Duda told the Catholic publication “Niedziela” in a recent interview.
The legislation could protect thousands of unborn babies from discriminatory abortion deaths. Irene Donadio, of the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network, told Euronews that about 97 percent of abortions in the country are done because of fetal anomalies.
Though the bill appears to have strong support from lawmakers and the public, abortion advocacy groups are pushing back aggressively to keep eugenic, discrimination-based abortions legal. In 2016, they organized massive protests to stop similar pro-life legislation from passing.
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Polish abortion activist Klementyna Suchanow slammed the latest pro-life effort, claiming the government is trying to take advantage of the coronavirus crisis to push the legislation.
“The government is taking advantage of the lockdown to push its bill,” Suchanow told the pro-abortion group Open Democracy. “They want us to think it’s about religion and moral values but, in reality, it’s all about power.”
A pro-abortion petition against the bill has signatures from 170 MPs, MEPs and senators from 24 European countries, according to the pro-abortion group; however, only nine of them are lawmakers from Poland.
The pro-life legislation is a citizen-led initiative. Under Polish law, parliament considers bills that receive at least 100,000 signatures of support from its citizens, and the “Stop Abortion” bill did.
Poland is predominantly Catholic. Despite on-going pressure from the United Nations, other European countries and abortion advocacy groups, its lawmakers have remained committed to protecting every human life.
In 2016, almost half a million citizens signed the initial citizen-led pro-life bill, and a poll at the time found that 58 percent of Poles support a ban on abortions, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The pro-life bill began gaining attention 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.
ACTION ALERT: Contact the Polish Parliament.