Featured Image
 Photo Credit: Biuro Prasowe Konferencji Episkopatu Polski/YouTube/Screenshot

(LifeSiteNews) — The head of the Polish bishops’ conference shared strong words in defense of life this week, declaring firmly that laws permitting abortion and euthanasia are unjust and that all people, not just Catholics, must value human life from the moment of conception until natural death.

“Due to opinions increasingly present in the public space about the alleged need to expand access to abortion, I wanted to recall the position of the Catholic Church on the issue of the right to life,” Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, chairman of the Polish Episcopal Conference, wrote in a statement published Friday. 

Archbishop Gądecki emphasized that the responsibility to protect and defend life lies not only with Catholics but with all.

“[E]very person — not only a member of the Catholic Church — of good conscience is faced with a moral obligation to respect human life from its beginning until natural death,” he said. “This is a teaching that refers to natural law, which is binding on the conscience of every person.”

The comments come after Poland’s newly elected Prime Minister Donald Tusk said earlier this month that his center-left political group, Civic Coalition, would forward a bill permitting abortions during the first third of an unborn baby’s life under some circumstances, Notes from Poland reported.

READ: Poland’s prime minister suggests abortion bill on the horizon in pro-life country

Currently, abortion is illegal in Poland except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. Pro-lifers point out that unborn babies are not culpable for the circumstances of their conception, and that the deliberate killing of a preborn baby is morally unjustifiable and never medically necessary. Medical interventions to deal with miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies are not abortions.

Prime Minister Tusk, who is part of a governmental shift in the country away from conservative leadership and toward a pro-European Union stance, acknowledged in an interview that he likely would not be able to garner sufficient votes to push through a loosening of the traditionally Catholic country’s abortion laws, but suggested that such a change could be made through other means, including “regulations, administrative decisions, persuasion and certain policies conducted by the health ministry.”

In his statement, Archbishop Gądecki conversely urged all people in Poland to adopt a pro-life stance, including lawmakers.

“In the spirit of responsibility for the Church in Poland and for the good of our common homeland, I call on all people of good will to unequivocally declare themselves pro-life,” the archbishop said. He also called on the nation’s lawmakers and the pro-life Catholic president “to bear witness to true concern for defenseless, unborn life.”

Heavily citing Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae in his statement, the archbishop affirmed that any law that permits the murder of the unborn in the womb, or the killing of terminally ill individuals, is unjust in itself.

“In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it,’” the papal encyclical reads.

READ: John Paul II: The pope of life

“Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize,” the document also states. “There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead, there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection.”

Concluding, Gądecki pushed back against the hyper-democratic and relativistic assertion that morality is determined by a majority vote. 

“What is right is not determined by the number of supporters of a given view,” he said. “The right — and above all the ethical reason — is often on the side of the minority,” even, at times, a single “individual with a well-formed conscience.”

It remains to be seen whether efforts to “liberalize” Poland’s abortion laws will take shape in the coming months.

To date, Poland has stood out as one of just a handful of countries (along with the U.S. and El Salvador) to have strengthened their legislative protections for the unborn in recent years while other countries have removed protections for unborn babies.