Polish legislative commission hands off proposal banning abortion to prime minister
WARSAW, Poland, January 31, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Poland’s legislators passed the buck on an abortion proposal last week when the Commission on Petitions voted to direct a proposed abortion ban to Prime Minister Beata Szydło.
An initial vote was scheduled for January 12 but postponed for no apparent reason before Commission members finally decided January 26 not to advance the bill into the Sejm (Lower House of Parliament) for a direct vote. Five voted against such a move and eight abstained.
The proposed bill, which would protect all unborn children and also ban the sale, free distribution, and advertising of abortifacients, now awaits the opinion of Szydlo, who is part of the executive branch of the government.
The proposed bill was written by the Polish Federation of Pro-Life Movements in September 2016. According to Polish law, a non-governmental organization can petition government authorities to change current laws.
Once the proposal is in the Commission on Petitions, it is up to them to either reject it or recommend it for a vote before the Sejm.
According to parliament member Jacek Świat from the ruling Law and Justice party, the Commission made the only sensible decision. However, its action was highly irregular because the prime minister belongs to the executive branch and is not responsible for passing legislation.
Instead of discussing the abortion ban, Swiat redirected the focus to the recently passed law “For Life,” which provides a one-time financial aid payment of approximately $1,000 to mothers who give birth to seriously disabled or terminally ill babies. Free palliative, psychological and medical care is included in the bill, which contains nothing about banning abortion.
According to the European Parliament member Marek Jurek, the Commission could have accepted the pro-life petition and presented it in the Parliament as its own.
Krystian Kratiuk from the conservative Pch24 told LifeSiteNews that “the members of the Commission behaved like Pontius Pilate, removing the responsibility for killing of the unborn from themselves … It’s a classic hand washing.”
The authors of the proposed bill are far from condemning the legislators, however. Dariusz Hybel, the editor of the pro-life magazine Głos dla Życia (“Voice for Life”), the official publication of the Polish Federation of Pro-Life Movements, still hopes to strengthen pro-life law in Poland.
Hybel is not ready to think about Plan B because “Plan A is still in play.”
He said the proposed draft was not rejected yet and the government has to answer the Commission request for opinion. In fact, the prime minister is bound by law to respond within 30 days.
“I don’t believe the opinion would be negative,” Hybel said. “We are still talking to the politicians of the ruling party and there is still hope.”
Hybel is hoping for at least a ban on eugenic abortions, which constitute the overwhelming majority of abortions in Poland. Recently, Polish President Andrzej Duda expressed his support for strengthening abortion laws and talked about the protection of babies with Down’s syndrome.
However, the standstill in the Sejm means that the 1993 law is still in force and the killing of the unborn in public hospitals continues. Even though abortions are technically illegal, they are allowed in three circumstances.
The first is when a doctor suspects that the baby has a severe and irreversible handicap or an incurable and life-threatening disease. The second is when the woman’s life or health is endangered and the third is when the pregnancy results from a criminal act.