WARSAW — A pro-life group in Poland is collecting signatures for a citizen’s bill that would ban all abortion in the nation without exceptions.
The move, led by Fundacja Pro (Pro Foundation), was sparked by outrage over a recent botched abortion at Holy Family Hospital in Warsaw in which the 24-week child, who had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome, was left unattended to die.
“The scream of this child was so traumatic for the personnel that they declared that they will never forget it,” Polish reporter Anna Wiejak told the outlet Church Militant.
The matter sparked outrage among Catholic leaders in the country. Over 90 percent of Polish citizens identify as Roman Catholic.
“We believe that every person, especially one who is completely helpless and dependent on us, should be of particular concern,” said the Polish Bishops Conference in a statement. “This is a concrete way of realizing the commandment to love one another.”
Current law in Poland allows abortion in instances of when the woman was impregnated in the commission of a crime, when the life and health of the mother is at risk, and for fetal handicaps and abnormalities, up to 25 weeks. There are approximately 200 abortions in the country under these exceptions.
The procedure had been banned altogether until 1932, and other exceptions have come and gone, such as in 1997, when “emotional distress” was introduced but struck down by the Polish Constitutional Court.
“The proposed draft ensures that all children, before and after birth, have equal rights and protection of life and health,” outlines legal group Ordo Iuris, which wrote the proposed language of the citizen’s bill, on its website. “It removes the three existing circumstances under which an abortion is currently permitted. The initiative requires the state to support families raising handicapped children or children conceived in in circumstances related to the commission of an offense.”
“Every human being has the inherent right to live from the moment of conception, i.e. the fusion of a female and male gametes. The life and the health of a child since its conception are protected by the law,” the bill reads.
“Public administration and local self-government bodies, within the limits of their respective competences, as specified in particular regulations, shall be obliged to provide material assistance and care to families raising children who are seriously handicapped or who suffer from a life-threatening illness, as well as to mothers and their children when there are reasons to suspect that the pregnancy is a result of an unlawful act,” it mandates.
While physicians who violate the law would face between three months and three years of incarceration, mothers who obtain an abortion illegally would not be punished.
Feminists and abortion advocates have protested the move, as well as former first ladies Danuta Wałęsa, Jolanta Kwaśniewska and Anna Komorowska.
“Every abortion is a tragedy, but we should not aggravate women’s tragedy by forcing them to give birth to children of rape or forcing them to risk their own life or health or that of their child,” they wrote in an open letter.
But Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said that she supports the citizen’s initiative, stating that the Bishops Conference statement “has clearly pointed us in the right direction. … Each of us must now decide according to conscience.”
The citizen’s bill must obtain 100,000 signatures in order to be considered by legislators.