Second Vatican: consequences of Poland's abortion wars

Author : Ivanna Kostina

Source : 112 Ukraine

Poland may soon be in the company of countries such as Sudan, Mali, Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan, Panama, Guatemala, Ireland, where abortion is prohibited or this procedure is extremely difficult
21:12, 4 October 2016

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CzarnyProtest Poland
Gazeta Wyborcza

Second weekend in a row, thousands of people dressed in black, came to the streets of Polish cities in the so-called "black protest" in order to express their opposition to the bill banning abortion and criminal responsibility for them.

#CzarnyProtest hashtag became the fourth most frequently request in Polish-online, and for a few days it has reached 10 million publications.

European Parliament became interested in situation around the controversial bill - next week it will hold a debate on women's rights in Poland.

Although the European institutions have no powers in philosophical issues, which include the issue of abortion, but the situation in Poland is not the first time the subject of discussion in the EU.

"PiS pays its obligations to the church"

What led to such protests?

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September 23, Sejm gave preference to Dragon Project Committee "Stop abortion," approved it in the first reading, directed to further improvement, and rejected suggestions of the committee "Save Women," which, conversely, would alleviate the current legislation. "PiS pays its obligations to the Roman Catholic church, which has supported the party in the elections, and it pays its debt to the women," said Barbara Novatska from "Save Women" Committee.

Actions of the government can be seen as a response to the appeal of the episcopate to the parliamentarians and officials to provide full legal protection of unborn life, read out in all churches of Poland April 3.

This appeal has found support at the highest level; Prime Minister Beata Maria Szydło supported the ban of abortions.

A real head of the country - the leader of "Law and Justice" Jaroslaw Kaczynski - noted that during the vote on ideological issues party discipline does not work, however he is convinced that absolute majority or even the entire faction would support abortion ban.

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Anyway, traditionally supportive relationship of Polish conservatives and the church does not negate the correctness of the comments that "PiS" trying to be holier than Pope Francis, who a year ago allowed the priests to forgive the sin of abortion.

Officially, abortions at will were prohibited in Poland in 1993. Abortion is currently allowed only in three cases: a threat to the life or health of the pregnant woman; high probability of severe and inevitable defects of the fetus or an incurable disease that threatens his life; pregnancy that came as a result of rape.

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In the first two cases, an abortion can be done only until the fetus has not developed enough to survive outside the womb. If as a result of rape, conception period is clearly articulated - not later than the end of the 12th week of pregnancy. The information that the pregnancy was caused by the crime must be confirmed by the prosecutor. Medical indications for abortion must be certified by a doctor.

Under such conditions, according to official statistics of the Ministry of Health of Poland, in 2014, 977 cases of abortions were registered; in 2013 – 744; in 2012 - 752, in 2011 - 669.

Meanwhile, Polish women use "abortion tourism;" they travel abroad in order to interrupt the unwanted pregnancies.

They might do in Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, and even in Ukraine, where abortion on request are allowed. In general, according to unofficial data, from 50 to 100 thousand Polish women make abortions during a year.

112 Agency

"Some dreams of a second Vatican"

Who are the authors of the controversial bill and what is its essence? The document was presented to the Polish Sejm on July 5; the committee "Stop abortion" was able to collect 450,000 signatures (100 thousand were needed).

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It was developed by the team of lawyers Ordo Iuris, who positioning themselves as "Lawyers defending conservative values in legal practice." They are known for supporting proposals of "PiS" on the controversial law on The Constitutional Tribunal. That is they support the new Polish government.

"Most of Poles are Catholics. Obviously, the laws are motivated by values," said on the air of TOK FM head of Ordo Iuris Jerzy Kwasniewski, who believes that the appeal of bishops to representatives of secular government with an appeal to "protect unborn children" does not violate the principle of separation of church and state.

The bill would ban all abortions, with no exceptions, and introduces criminal liability.

The pregnant woman and the doctor involved in abortion should be imprisoned for 3 months to 5 years.

"Poland should join the states where life is protected from conception," said Joanna Banasyuk from "Stop abortion" Committee. Among her arguments was that the most Poles support the alleged prohibition of abortion and the need to eliminate "discrimination against children with regard to health status."

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According to the initiators of the project, the prohibition of abortion would stimulate the development of prenatal research that enables the birth of a healthy child. Opponents of the bill are outraged that the government condones attempts to deny women’s right to dispose of their bodies.

"Some dreams of the second Vatican. But many of us are against it. Ban of abortions is a gift for rapists. There is even no reason to notify the police," said Barbara Novatska.

What is next?

So controversial bill is on the finalizing stage now. It is unknown how long would it take. It may take weeks, months or even years. Everything depends on the position of the “PiS” leader.

Opening a new front is disadvantageous for the political force that lives from scandal to scandal. The aggravation of internal contradictions is disadvantageous for Polish government, which is in a protracted confrontation with the EU through constitutional crisis and disagreement with the scheme of distribution of workers.

Rating of "PiS" yet is consistently high - according to a recent survey by TNS Polska, 36% of respondents would vote for the Conservatives, and only 17% for the "Civic Platform." Therefore, the ruling party does not need "critical" initiatives to mobilize their supporters.

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Moreover, such an initiative can quickly mobilize opposition. Moreover, the idea of a total ban of abortion is not popular in Poland.

14% of Poles advocate strengthening of abortion ban, 25% are for mitigation, and 42% prefer not to change the legal mechanisms of abortions.  

We should not forget about a bill, which was rejected by the Sejm. The bill on weakening the abortion ban gained 215 thousand signatures.

Forcing prohibition and criminal liability for abortion will only fuel the already significant protest activity in the country. Now the protests are actively joined by the young women who are usually less politicized population.

However, there are considerable doubts about whether these arguments will stop "PiS." In this scenario, Poland may soon be in the company of countries such as Sudan, Mali, Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan, Panama, Guatemala, Ireland, where abortion is prohibited or it is extremely difficult.

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