WARSAW, June 24, 2008 (CWNews.com/LifeSiteNews.com) - Pro-life activists in Poland have called for the excommunication of the country’s health minister, Ewa Kopacz, who was involved in arranging an abortion for a 14-year-old girl.

Kopacz, who located a hospital willing to perform the abortion in the highly publicized case, has defended her action, saying: "As a government minister, I did my job." She had located a willing hospital after institutions in the girl’s hometown, Lublin, and the capital city, Warsaw, had refused to perform the abortion.

"I don’t feel guilty," Kopacz said. "Yesterday I was at church, so I have no reason to feel guilty."

Others disagree. The Catholic magazine Fronda asked Bishop Zygmunt Zimowski of Radom to pronounce the excommunication of the health minister. And Archbishop Tadeusz Goclowski of Gdansk, where the abortion was eventually performed, said that everyone directly involved in the operation was "already excommunicated," since the Code of Canon Law explicitly stipulates excommunication as the penalty for procuring an abortion. The canonical penalty is incurred latae sententiae—that is, automatically, without the need for any formal announcement.

Father Piotr Kienewicz, a moral theologian at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, commented that even if the government supported abortion in this case, Kopacz could have resigned rather than locating a hospital to perform the operation. Because the health minister chose to aid in the abortion, he questioned whether her adherence to the Catholic faith is sincere. Moreover, because of the highly public nature of her action, Father Kienewicz said that Kopacz could not readily be absolved of her guilty. "Because her action was of a public nature, I do not believe in this case, confession and penance suffice," he said.