CNA Staff, Oct 30, 2020 / 01:01 pm (CNA).- Facing protests across the country after a court ruling prohibiting abortion for fetal abnormalities, the Polish president said Friday he would propose a bill permitting abortion in cases of fatal fetal abnormality.
Andrzej Duda said Oct. 30 he would introduce a bill to allow abortion “when prenatal tests or other medical indications show a high probability that the child will be stillborn or have an incurable disease or defect that will lead to the death of the child inevitably and directly, regardless of the therapeutic measures used,” Reuters reported.
Protests across Poland began after the constitutional court ruled Oct. 22 that a law permitting abortion for fetal abnormalities was unconstitutional. The Polish constitution says that the state “shall ensure the legal protection of the life of every human being”.
The court was asked to examine the law last year by a group of 119 MPs belonging to the ruling Law and Justice party, as well as two smaller parties.
About 1,000 abortions are legally procured in the country annually, the vast majority of them on the basis of fetal abnormality.
Abortion will continue to remain legal in cases of rape, incest, and risk to the mother’s life.
Duda initially welcomed the court ruling, telling the Warsaw daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna Oct. 23 “that abortion for so-called eugenic reasons should not be allowed in Poland. I believed and believe that every child has a right to life.”
The AP reported Oct. 29 that Duda had told RMF FM that abortion should be prohibited for non-fatal fetal conditions such as Down syndrome, but permitted for fatal abnormalities: “it cannot be that the law requires this kind of heroism from a woman.”
He said: “I believe that there should be a regulation which, in case of lethal defects, will unequivocally guarantee the rights on the side of the woman.”
Protesters have been blocking roads and bridges, and disrupting churches, across Poland. A mass protest is occurring Friday evening in Warsaw.
Supporters of abortion rights disrupted Sunday Masses across Poland this weekend. They have also left graffiti on church property, vandalized a statue of St. John Paul II, and chanted slogans at clergy. Roads and bridges have been blocked, and some workers were on strike Oct. 28.
Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski has said 76 people have been detained in connection with protests at churches, and 101 cases are being prosecuted.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has warned the protests will contribute to the spread of the coronavirus. Poland has had more than 299,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and 4,851 deaths.
Five people have been charged with organizing an illegal protest attended by 850 on Oct. 29 in Police, about 10 miles north of Szczecin.
And the national public prosecutor has said protest organizers will be charged with “causing an epidemiological threat”.
Internationally, protests have been held outside Polish embassies, ranging from tens gathered in Rome, to more than a thousand in Stockholm.
The permanent council of the Polish bishops’ conference said Oct. 28 that the Church makes a “constant call for protection, including legal protection, of the life of every human being, including the unborn.”
“The commandment of love imposes on us an important duty of caring, helping, and giving mothers and families who receive and raise sick children the protection they need,” the bishops reflected. “We thank all communities and institutions that have been doing this for years, and we appeal to parishes, Catholic movements, and other church organizations to undertake specific initiatives to meet those who need and will need both individual and institutional help.”
“The Church will always stand for life and support initiatives that protect it,” they added.
The bishops spoke of their “great pain” at “the escalation of social tension and aggression” during the protests.
“The vulgar language used by some of the protesters, the destruction of social property, the devastation of churches, the profanation of sacred places, or prevention of the liturgy there are also disturbing.”
“We call on everyone to engage in meaningful social dialogue, to express their views without resorting to violence, and to respect the dignity of every human being,” they said.
The bishops commented that “we ask politicians and all participants of the social debate, at this dramatic time, to thoroughly analyze the causes of the situation and look for ways out, in the spirit of truth and for the common good, without instrumentalizing matters regarding the faith and the Church.”
The bishops thanked the pastors and laity “who are courageously defending their churches,” as well as the security services. “The Church wants to remain open to all people, regardless of their social and political affiliation,” they noted.
Reflecting on the impositions due to the coronavirus pandemic, they appealed for “solidarity and compliance with the sanitary safety regulations.”
“We also ask all believers to fast, to give alms, and to pray for social peace, with the intention of protecting life, putting an end to the ongoing crisis, and ending the developing pandemic,” they concluded.
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