More protests greet new Polish pro-life bill

Abortion | Latest proposal would ban abortions for babies diagnosed with disabilities
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 10/24/16, 02:46 pm

As Polish lawmakers forge a new pro-life bill in Parliament, another wave of protesters hit the streets Sunday and Monday in Warsaw and other cities across the country.

Protesters, mostly women, wore black and carried signs with pro-abortion slogans, such as, “Girls just want to have fundamental rights.” They echoed the Black Monday outcry earlier this month against a proposed abortion ban.

Conservative members of Parliament, who unexpectedly struck down the broadly supported bill after the Black Monday protests, have begun drafting a new proposal that would protect unborn babies diagnosed with disabilities.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the ruling Law and Justice Party, said earlier this month his party “will strive to ensure that even pregnancies are very difficult when a child is certain to die, very deformed, still end up in a birth, so that the child can be baptized, buried, have a name.”

The ruling party, which came to power in November 2015, promised the predominantly Catholic nation more abortion restrictions. Abortion is currently only legal in Poland in cases of rape and incest (up to the 12th week) or if the mother’s life is in danger or the child is diagnosed with deformities (up to the 24th week).

Support for a total abortion ban soared, especially after wide publicity in the case of a baby left to die after a botched abortion. The baby was thought to have Down syndrome. 

But the “Stop Abortion” bill was too strict, many Poles said, and even the Catholic Church opposed the bill’s prison sentences for women who get abortions. 

The new bill is more “piecemeal,” Human Life International’s Stephen Phelan told me, and might gain the support it needs to become law. 

He hasn’t seen any mention of prison terms for women, which kills one argument of the pro-life movement’s opposition. Even so, protests have been vocal, with American billionaire George Soros funding the Polish media campaign, Phelan said.

Despite claims of international interference, Phelan said pro-life Polish lawmakers hold a broad majority in the government and can push the reforms through: “They’ve got everything they need to do what they want, unless they overshoot the target.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Samantha Gobba

Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.

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