CNA Staff, Apr 15, 2020 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- Poland's parliament will consider a citizen-initiated bill to ban abortion in cases where the unborn child has a severe abnormality, though it is unclear whether the bill has enough support to become law.
About 830,000 citizens signed the petition for the citizen's bill which is now set for an April 16 vote in the lower house of Poland's parliament. The bill would bar abortion in cases where the unborn child has an abnormality. It is the most common reason for abortion in Poland, and sometimes used in cases where the child is not expected to survive.
The Catholic bishops made a general statement on abortion restrictions.
“The Polish Bishops' Conference supports all initiatives aimed at protecting human life from conception to natural death,” Fr. Pawel Rytel-Andrianik, spokesman for the Polish bishops’ conference, said on Twitter April 15.
Polish law allows abortion only in cases of rape, incest, threat to the mother's life, or fetal abnormality. About 700-1,800 legal abortions take place in Poland each year.
President Andrzej Duda, who is allied with the Law and Justice party, has said that he backs further restrictions on abortion and would sign such restrictions into law.
“I believe that killing disabled children is simply murder,” he told the Catholic news outlet Niedziela, according to Reuters.
While the Law and Justice party-led conservative coalition controls parliament and tends to support pro-life causes, the ruling party appears reluctant to back the bill.
Law and Justice spokesman Radoslaw Fogiel said lawmakers are divided on the citizen abortion bill and party discipline is not implemented on such matters.
Polls suggest Duda is on track to win the presidential elections held May 10, but there are uncertainties because of the situation under the new coronavirus. Efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus include holding the election by mail ballot, but minority parties object that the fact the election will take place at all gives unfair advantages to the incumbent party.
A previous citizen's bill to ban all abortions in Poland failed to pass parliament in 2015, as did later parliamentary proposals. Foes of a 2016 bill to further restrict abortions rallied about 100,000 protesters across the country.
Abortion proponents' efforts to make abortion law more permissive have also failed. Many women who seek abortions go abroad to countries with more permissive abortion law.
Another citizen's bill up for consideration would ban sex education and make it a criminal offense to promote or approve sexual intercourse or other sexual activity by a minor.
Backers say it will combat sexual abuse of minors and discourage promiscuity.
Authors of the “Stop Pedophilia” bill said sex educators often “groom and familiarize children with homosexuality,” Reuters reports. “The organizations and activists most involved in the promotion of sexual ‘education’ in our country are the LGBT lobby,” they charged in a document to parliament accompanying the proposed law. Sex education lessons, they charged, are used “by the LGBT lobby to achieve radical political goals,” including adoption by same-sex couples.
Schools in Poland do not often offer sex education, but teach students to prepare for family life. Last year the Law and Justice party condemned a local push for sex education in Warsaw, where opposing political parties hold control.
More than 200,000 people participated in Marches for Life and Family in 130 cities across Poland in June 2019 in protest of sex education in schools.
The Catholic Church in Poland supported the marches, and the Polish bishops’ conference thanked the faithful for participating in the marches at their June plenary meeting. According to the bishops' press office, the bishops warned against “the promotion of ideologies inimical to natural law and Christian values and against the attempts at introducing such ideologies to schools under the guise of sexual education.”
Critics of the sex education ban objected to linking sex educators with pedophiles and said it would encourage persecution of homosexuals.
While Polish critics of the citizens' bills claimed backers were pushing them forward under cover of the coronavirus pandemic, Elzbieta Witek said they are citizen's initiatives which must be considered under the law, the Associated Press reports.
“I know that they are controversial,” Witek said. “But in a democratic state — and Poland is such a state — citizens’ projects must be subjected to proceedings in the Polish parliament, because that’s the law.”
Draginja Nadazdin, the director of Amnesty International in Poland, called both citizen bills "draconian."
“Attempting to pass these recklessly retrogressive laws at any time would be shameful, but to rush them through under the cover of the COVID-19 crisis is unconscionable,” she said.
Amnesty International, a human rights organization, enjoyed significant Catholic support until it adopted a pro-abortion rights policy in 2007, prompting many Catholics and other pro-life advocates to resign. Now it is part of abortion advocacy worldwide, backed by funders like billionaire financier George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, which also seeks change on abortion in Poland and other strongly Catholic countries.
In August 2016, CNA broke the news that documents allegedly hacked from the Open Society Foundations and posted to the site DCLeaks.com included a strategy proposal targeting the Republic of Ireland’s pro-life constitutional protections for the unborn child by backing several pro-abortion rights groups, including Amnesty Ireland.
The foundations’ strategy suggested that a pro-abortion rights victory in Ireland “could impact other strongly Catholic countries in Europe, such as Poland, and provide much needed proof that change is possible, even in highly conservative places.”
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