Poland seeks abortion ban on babies with Down syndrome
Unlike most of Europe, Poland protects unborn babies from abortion in most circumstances. Terminations are only permissible after rape or incest, if the mother’s life is at risk, or in cases of foetal abnormality – including Down syndrome.
The proposed legislation would remove the last provision and protect unborn babies from discriminatory disability-selective abortions.
Polling within the country has revealed there is strong support for pro-life measures in the country. A CBOS poll found that 75 percent of Polish people think abortion is “always wrong and can never be justified.” Meanwhile, only 7 percent thought there was “nothing wrong with it and could always be justified.”
Additionally, the proposed legislation comes from a Citizens’ Initiative that received support from over 830,000 Polish residents, indicating further strong support for a change in law.
Under Polish law, parliament has a legal duty to consider any Citizens’ Initiative bills that receive over 100,000 signatures within six months of its formation – in this case by May 2020.
However, it is unclear how much support the ruling Law and Justice party will give the bill despite it being submitted by one of their own MPs, Elzbieta Witek.
In 2016, the Law and Justice party initially supported a similar Citizens’ Initiative but then withdrew its support after protests from abortion activists.
Though the bill has strong support from the public, pro-life campaigners are wary that pressure from abortion activist groups pushing back aggressively to keep eugenic disability-selective abortions legal could see the Law and Justice party withdraw their support yet again.
A pro-abortion petition against the bill has signatures from 170 MPs, MEPs and senators from 24 European countries. However, only nine of the signatories are lawmakers from Poland.
President Andrzej Duda has indicated he will sign the bill into law, telling Polish publication Niedziela in a recent interview: “I believe that killing children with disabilities is simply murder. If a project opposing this issue will find itself on my desk, I will certainly sign it.”