Jonathon Van Maren

From the front lines of the culture wars


Abortion in Poland ‘is used by the extreme Left for cultural revolution’

‘I think when it comes to the involvement of young people on the Left side of the political spectrum, we see more engagement on LGBTQ issues, and then the pro-choice movement,’ said Polish pro-life leader Jakub Baltroszewicz.
Sat Nov 7, 2020 - 1:40 pm EST
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A statue in Poland attacked by abortion supporters

November 7, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — If the world were not transfixed by the unfolding electoral disaster in the United States, all eyes would be fixed on Poland. On October 22, the nation’s top court ruled that eugenic abortions — those performed on pre-born children with fatal fetal abnormalities — were unconstitutional.

There are only around 1,000 abortions each year in Poland, which already has very restrictive abortion laws, and nearly all of them are procured for this reason. To the shock of Law and Justice (PiS), the conservative ruling party, the country promptly exploded.

There have been days of protests, with over 100,000 marching in Warsaw last Friday. Aerial photos show an ocean of people converging in the streets, with COVID-19 restrictions still ostensibly limiting groups to only five. By Tuesday, over half a million people had joined the protests, the largest street rallies since the Solidarity protests that toppled Communism. Armies of police officers were deployed to protect the homes of politicians, including deputy prime minister Jarosław Kaczyński’s residence, as well as churches, which almost immediately became flashpoints for angry crowds. Protestors stormed services, calling for congregants to “pray for abortion for all.”

In response, Polish president Andrzej Duda filed amendments to the abortion law to soften the court ruling, but protestors are demanding a complete repeal of the judgement. One European media outlet referred to the protests as “the abortion revolution,” and it is not clear they will end anytime soon.

Jakub Baltroszewicz is the president of the Polish Federation of Pro-Life and Pro-Family Movements, which was founded in 1993 and is the oldest and largest pro-life umbrella organization in the country, with thirty members. He told me that while abortion was legal for a short time in 1996-97 for “social circumstances,” that law was ruled to be unconstitutional, but from the early 2000s there was a steady uptick in eugenic abortions, which now account for the majority of terminations (1074 of 1116 in 2019.)

To respond to this, several citizens’ initiatives were introduced by the pro-life movement to ban or further limit abortion, with the most recent “Stop Abortion” petition garnering 800,000 signatures in a country of 38 million. A parliamentary commission was supposed to examine the issue, but when they failed to do so, 119 pro-life parliamentarians submitted a request to the Constitutional Tribunal in December of 2019, asking them to examine whether eugenic abortion was constitutional.

After ten months, the Tribunal ruled that it was not — and the protests began in earnest. Almost immediately, Baltroszewicz told me, progressive political parties seized on the protests as an opportunity to confront the ruling Law and Justice and shifted from demanding that the Tribunal’s decision be repealed to demanding abortion “up until birth” as well as the resignation of the government.

“Some conservative organizations started to protect churches in a military-like manner by creating cordons,” Baltroszewicz told me. “Left-wing media tried to heat up the atmosphere in any way possible. At this point, rational dialogue was not possible. It was not about abortion anymore, not about compromise, not about freedom. We also see that the protest is ‘fashionable’ among young people, who are tired of COVID restrictions and feel that they are part of a fight for freedom and don’t want to stay behind and look old-fashioned. Lots of these people do not have strong pro-life or pro-choice convictions but have been manipulated into thinking that they are part of a historical revolution. The Catholic, pro-life president panicked and called for a compromise law.”

“The intention,” Baltroszewicz explained, “was to allow abortion only for lethal cases when we are sure that the child will not survive more than hours or days after birth but ban, for example, abortions on children with Down syndrome. Unfortunately, the proposal was badly written under tremendous pressure from the crowd. What is even worse is that the ruling of the Constitutional Tribunal was not yet published, although the deadline was November 2. It is clearly an egregious violation of Polish law and I am shocked the Government decided on such a move. Can you imagine a situation where any Government disagrees with the ruling of the Supreme Court of its country under tremendous pressure from protests and decides not to publish it so it cannot become law as if the ruling never happened? We are clearly in a deep political crisis and our conservative government is in full panic mode.”

While the international press is presenting the protests as an abortion revolution, Baltroszewicz says the ruling was only a flashpoint, and that young people in Poland generally don’t feel strongly about abortion either way.

Abortion, however, “is used by the extreme Left for cultural revolution and has become a kind of symbol to change the social structure and mentality. Poland is one of the few countries in Europe that still has strong Christian and conservative values, and some people simply cannot stand that as they hate everything that represents these values. If you look at countries like France, Spain, Ireland, or Malta — one or two generations ago, they were as Christian and conservative Poland, and what happened? This is a revolution, and the Tribunal ruling was a good moment to introduce it to our country.”

“I think when it comes to the involvement of young people on the Left side of the political spectrum, we see more engagement on LGBTQ issues, and then the pro-choice movement, although both support each other.”

The pro-life movement isn’t giving up. Baltroszewicz says the short-term goal is to “manage a current crisis caused not only by the protests, but also by the president’s proposal and the refusal to publish the Tribunal ruling. We still hope the ruling will be respected in its entirety, but if the politicians decide that compromise is required, all we can do is try to introduce proposals from the pro-life side. We really hope the situation will calm down and left-wing extremists stop using abortion for cultural revolution, but I don’t think that will happen … Our long-term goal is to build a culture of life in Poland. It is needed especially for families who have children with disabilities or illness.”

“If eugenic abortion will be banned or limited, we must prove that these families are well taken care of not only by us but by the State. We need appropriate financial support for them, we need easy access to rehabilitation, they need to feel safe and supported as raising a child with illness or disabilities may be challenging. If we want abortion — especially eugenic abortion — to stop, we must prove as a society, as a State, that we take a good care of all our children and especially vulnerable ones. Only then, I believe, will abortion become — like slavery or racial segregation — a nightmare of the past times.”

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In the meantime, pro-lifers are also advocating for introducing free pre-natal hospices with a mandatory requirement that women be informed that they need not choose abortion but can instead choose hospice and palliative care for their children.

“This will give the child the possibility of passing away without any pain, and the possibility of being held by parents who can say their goodbyes and plan a proper funeral,” Baltroszewicz told me. “A child is not medical waste. If we cannot do anything to save the child’s life, at least we can give them the dignity of a painless, human death.”

Jonathon’s new podcast, The Van Maren Show, is dedicated to telling the stories of the pro-life and pro-family movement. In his latest episode, he talks to Mary Eberstadt to discuss how the sexual revolution, the break-down of the family, and identity politics have brought us to where we are today. Eberstadt felt vindicated by the 2020 presidential election results. Why? She has been saying for years that, “The sexual revolution is now having system wide political consequences.”

You can subscribe here and listen to the episode below:

  abortion, jakub baltroszewicz, poland

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