Polish prime minister calls for total abortion ban
by Evan Wilt
Posted 4/04/16, 03:15 pm
New leadership in Poland plans to make the country among the most pro-life in the world by putting a stop to all abortions.
“I’m thrilled to see Poland moving in this direction,” said Marie Smith, director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues, a Washington, D.C., based group that helps elected officials advance pro-life laws around the world. “They are making a statement that the government has its foundations built on the dignity of life.”
Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło and her conservative Law and Justice party came to power last fall in part on the campaign promise to advance pro-life legislation. Poland has the largest proportion of Catholic citizens in the world at over 92 percent. The new proposed regulations would bring Poland’s abortion laws in line with the Catholic Church’s teachings to make it illegal to kill an unborn baby for any reason.
Catholic bishops in Poland circulated a letter to read during mass last weekend in support of the proposed pro-life law. The letter says the Catholic position on abortion is clear and unchanging: “The life of every person is protected by Sixth of the Ten Commandments: Thou shalt not kill.”
But some Polish women took offense to the letter and the Catholic Church’s stance on life. A group of women in Poland walked out in protest during a Catholic mass on Sunday.
Szydło went on Polish public radio last Thursday to talk about her cabinet’s draft of the new pro-life legislation. She said the bill is not finalized for her to sign off on, but “as for my opinion, yes, I support this initiative.”
Poland is already one of the most pro-life nations in Europe. Current laws curtail all abortions after 25-weeks and only allow abortions before that for special circumstances. To legally abort a baby in Poland, there must be a threat to the mother’s life or the pregnancy must have come from a criminally proven act such as rape or incest. There are also exceptions if the baby is seriously malformed. Statistics show Poland performs fewer than 1,000 abortions within its borders every year. In 2001, there were only 136 reported abortions.
The new proposal has sparked an outcry from pro-abortion individuals organized by the liberal opposition parties in Poland. Thousands of women attended a rally outside of Poland’s parliament buildings in Warsaw. Reuters reported the protesters chanted “keep your hands off the uterus” while waiving wire coat hangers, a symbol used to signify the threat of dangerous underground abortions.
Six countries currently have a total ban on abortions: Vatican City, Malta, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Chile. Poland plans to join Malta as one of only two European countries to have complete protections for the unborn. Many countries that culturally deplore abortion such as Iran and Afghanistan allow it with the caveat of protecting the mother’s life.
Last month, bishops in Malawi issued a similar statement to Poland’s calling on the government to outlaw all abortions in the country.
“The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society,” they wrote. “Our belief in the sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of the human person is the foundation of all the principles of social teaching.”
Evan is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Washington, D.C.