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Pro-life advocates in front of the Polish parliament

WARSAW, Poland, September 23, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The lower house of Parliament voted Friday to reject a “Save Women” bill proposing abortion on demand and continue the legislative process on a “Stop Abortion” measure that could result in a total ban on abortion in Poland.

Several bills were introduced in Parliament on Thursday. Members of Parliament heard the reading of three bills — the first banning abortion, the second allowing abortion on demand until the third month of gestation, and the third defining an embryo as a child in the earliest phase of development (in relation to in vitro fertilization).

The “Stop Abortion” bill passed by a majority of 267-154 in parliament. It will move on to commissioners for deliberation before a final draft of the bill is written and voted upon. The wide margin is seen as a sign that the final bill will pass.

The “Save Women” proposal, presented by abortion advocates and which sought inclusions for the health of the mother and fetal deformity up to 24 weeks,was defeated 230-173.

Since 1993, abortion in Poland has been illegal except in three circumstances — when the woman's life or health is endangered, when the pregnancy is a result of a criminal act, and when a doctor believes the baby has a severe and irreversible handicap or an incurable and life- threatening disease. Some politicians consider this law a compromise that should be left untouched.

“Abortion is the massacre of innocent children, hell for women and a moral disgrace for men,”  said Joanna Banasiuk, a lawyer from the Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture that introduced the bill to the members of Parliament.

The proposed ban on abortion is the work of a grass-roots movement and, contrary to what has been reported in the foreign press, was started neither by the Catholic Church nor by the government. The Polish democratic system enables a group of citizens to initiate a legislative procedure (a bill) in the lower chamber of the Parliament by gathering 100,000 signatures. The citizens’ initiative on abortion received more than 450,000 signatures. A few organizations are behind this legal proposition, including the Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture and The Right to Life Foundation.

The new law would give legal protection to all children from the moment of conception, thereby outlawing all abortions in Poland. The bill specifically states that the doctor who causes an unborn child’s death trying to save women’s life will not be punished.

The focus of the proposed law is not punishing women who do have abortions; in fact, it leaves that to the discretion of judges. Instead, it increases punishment for abortionists and others who harm pregnant women and force them to abort by ruse or threat. What’s more, it also discusses the state’s responsibility in helping parents of handicapped or special-needs children.

Some pro-life organizations did not want the mothers to be punished for abortion and recently created a similar bill without legal responsibility for women. The Parliament has not decided if it will vote on it.

Jerzy Kwaśniewski from Ordo Iuris explained that automatically exempting all women from responsibility for abortion means in fact consent to this crime. Kwaśniewski alluded to Poland’s Communist past, quoting Helena Wolińska, a Stalinist prosecutor who said that erasing the punishment for women is “equal to elimination of legal protection for the fetus.” In the 1980s, legal experts in Communist Poland wrote that this legal solution was considered “a Socialist achievement, unknown in imperialist world.”

According to Kwaśniewski, out of 196 countries, more than 150 protect the life of unborn and at the same time hold mothers responsible for taking their lives.

Three days before the vote, a private television station showed a seven-minute abortion video entitled Choice Blues Abortion, produced by Gregg Cunningham of the Center of Bio-Ethical Reform in 2002. The video aired at 11:25 pm on Republika TV on the program “The Clash of Civilizations,” hosted by conservative journalist Tomasz Terlikowski. That evening’s guests included Mariusz Dzierżawski, whose Right to Life Foundation spearheaded the proposed abortion ban, and member of parliament Tomasz Rzymkowski from Kukiz’15. Terlikowski, the editor-in-chief of Republika TV, warned his audience that the video was graphic but argued that people could only discuss abortion once they understood what it was.

All three agreed that Polish politicians should see the movie. Dzierżawski, who had suggested that Republika TV show the film, told LifeSiteNews that the politicians would receive the movie on DVD.

It is difficult to know how many abortions are committed legally in Poland. In mid-September, the Right to Life Foundation said during a press conference that the data from the Ministry of Health differs from the National Health Fund (NFZ), which administers the health care system. According to the Ministry of Health, there were 977 abortions in 2014, whereas the NFZ counted 1,812 in the same period.

Mariusz Dzierżawski of the Right to Life Foundation commented to that this could mean that the Ministry uses false data or that some hospitals claim money for abortions that they did not perform.

Anna Kiljan of the Right to Life Foundation explained that 90 percent of abortions in Poland take place because the unborn child is suspected of being sick or handicapped because of prenatal testing, in most cases with Down’s or Turner’s syndrome. Those abortions are performed when the unborn is mature, after the 20th week of gestation. According to British data, more than 10 percent of late abortions end in the live birth of a child who is then left to die unattended.

In recent years, the Polish media reported cases of live birth after abortions performed in public hospitals in Warsaw and Wrocław.

Now there is an opportunity for the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party to make sure those barbaric acts are illegal. However, the Polish government is under strong pressure and intimidation from European Union (EU) organizations, where the abortion lobby is strong.

The PiS faces a choice between “law and justice” for the unborn and the EU demands. The party has a pro-life plank and its electorate hopes it shows courage and a moral integrity consistent with the Polish culture of respecting human life. According to the latest CBOS poll from March 2016, 66 percent of Poles answered “yes” to the following question: “Do you think human life should be protected always and in all circumstances from the moment of conception till natural death.”