Not dead yet: Historic Polish pro-life bill alive and well despite commission vote against
WARSAW, POLAND, August 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – While initial news reports following a vote by a parliamentary commission in Poland had suggested that the vote had effectively killed a historic pro-life bill, LifeSiteNews has since learned that the commission vote is non-binding on the Polish Parliament as a whole, and the bill (which would ban all abortions in the country) is in fact still alive and well.
“This is not a Parliament’s rejection of the bill, but Commission’s opinion on the project, which is not obligatory for the Parliament as it can decide otherwise during the next voting,” said Polish pro-lifer Aleksandra Michalczyk of the PRO Foundation, the organization behind the bill, in an interview with LifeSiteNews.
With the final decision on the bill up to Parliament, the prospects for its success remain good – the bill survived a motion to defeat it in July in an overwhelming 254-151 vote.
Michalczyk said that pro-lifers do not yet know when the full vote before Parliament will happen. “We were very surprised by the decision of the Commission,” she said, “because the project was signed by 600,000 people, and according to the independent organization’s research on public opinion, 85% of Poles are against abortion and 65% think that the law should be changed to reflect that.”
“Moreover during the last voting in the Parliament 254 (against 151) lawmakers voted for life,” she said. “In the light of upcoming Parliament elections the Commission’s decision wasn’t very smart; however their opinion is not very important.”
Lawmaker Slawomir Piechota of the governing Civic Platform Party has said that parliament, or Sejm, will likely act on the bill before October 9 parliamentary elections.
Interestingly, however, the bill does not have the full support of all pro-lifers in Poland, some of whom believe there is room for improvement, even as they support its core purpose.
“The problem is that the bill proposes to remove from schools preparation for family life, which teaches respect for life and human dignity,” said Lech and Ewa Kowalewski of the Polish Federation of Pro-Life Movements.
“The draft also deletes records of state help for pregnant schoolgirls and pregnant women in crisis.”
The Kowalewskis point out that those behind the bill argue that the bill is simply “a law on the protection of life and not a law on how help their mothers.” “The Polish Federation of Pro-Life Movements does not share that position,” they say, arguing that the bill should be more specific in the types of aid that are to be made available for pregnant women.
Nevertheless, the bill is being supported by a wide coalition, including the Catholic Church in Poland and the Obstetrician/Gynecologist Section of the Catholic Association of Polish Medical Doctors, as well as numerous journalists, lawyers, and professors. It is being opposed by Amnesty International, the Federation for Women and Family Planning, of which the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Poland is a member association, the Polish Chamber of Physicians and Dentists, the Main Chamber of Nurses and Midwives, and the National Public Prosecutor.
In July, the pro-abortion Democratic Left Alliance Party submitted a bill to liberalize Poland’s current law. This bill seeks to legalize abortion on demand up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, offer government funding of contraception, and introduce sex education to schools.
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