WARSAW, November 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – A demand by a United Nations body that Poland remove restrictions on abortion and eliminate “windows of life” that allow babies to be safely abandoned, all in the name of children's rights, has provoked derision in the staunchly Catholic country.
The newspaper Spoleczenstwo (Society) noted that the U.N. has no authority to compel compliance from Poland, adding, “The document gives the impression that it was written at the request of leftist politicians.” The socially conservative, pro-life Law and Justice Party won a majority in the recent national elections.
After reviewing the country's performance, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child sent the Polish government a stiff and lengthy note pointing out numerous violations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. What is causing the negative reaction is the call for the government “to make the conditions for abortion less restrictive and, in relation to adolescent girls, to reflect the right of the child to express her views and the best interests of the child.” That would be the “interests” of the teenage child equated with her wish for an abortion.
The committee made no reference to the same Convention's recognition that “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”
Instead, the committee calls for the closing of “windows of life” at Catholic convents, which allow babies to be anonymously abandoned into the care of the sisters; a revamped sex education curriculum in public schools that promotes contraception; and “clear standards for a uniform and non-restrictive interpretation of the conditions for legal abortion and relevant procedures, including strict implementation of confidentiality of personal information.”
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Poland allows abortion when the mother's life or health is endangered, when the pregnancy is caused by rape, and when the fetus is malformed. Minors must have parental consent, and encouraging an illegal abortion is illegal, too.
Wanda Nowicka, a left-wing member of the Polish parliament, or Sejm, before the recent election applauded the report, telling reporters, “The Committee recognized that we have legislation that restricts human rights,” citing a famous 2008 case of 14-year-old rape victim from Lublin who was able to get an abortion only after being rejected at one hospital, urged by a priest to relent, and made to wait three days at another – which the European Human Rights Court condemned in 2012 as a violation of the girl's human rights.
The new and conservative government of Poland, which won partly on its opposition to intrusions on Polish sovereignty by the European Union, appears to be unmoved by the U.N. letter. According to Society, “Stanisław Szwed, the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy, said the Polish government will not change the country's abortion law. The Law and Justice Party, who won last month's parliamentary elections and formally took power this week, campaigned on protecting life and the family.”
Bartosz Lewandowski of the Institute for Legal Culture said the U.N. committee had an ideological agenda that does not have “any connection with the protection of children's rights.” Calling for widespread access to abortion, he said, is “to relativize the most fundamental right – to life.” In 2014, he noted, the same committee called on the Vatican to change its teachings on homosexuality.
The committee also called for the closure of Poland's 57 “windows of life” or “baby hatches,” which are streetside warm access ports in convents, allowing passerby to abandon unwanted babies. But the country's ombudsman for children, Marek Michalak, defended them, claiming they had saved 77 babies who might otherwise have been left in forests to die.