WARSAW (ChurchMilitant.com) - A new pro-life bill has been passed in Poland by the Council of Ministers on December 20. The law, which will go into effect January 1, will pay mothers to go through with a pregnancy, even when serious disabilities or issues have been detected in the child.
Under current Polish law, abortion is permitted only when the mother's life is at risk, in cases of rape or incest, or when the child has serious disabilities such as Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, etc.
For those women who go through with the pregnancy under these circumstances, the Polish government will provide a one-time payment of €900 euros. In addition, the law would provide funding for psychological counseling for the mother, if necessary.
The vast majority of legal abortions in Poland occur when the child has a severe disability or deformity — what this plan is trying to prevent.
According to official government figures, there were 1,040 abortions performed last year, while it's reported that there were 150,000 illegal and secretly performed abortions. The number of illegal abortions performed in Poland has been confirmed by Wanda Nowicka, the chairwoman of the Federation for Women and Family planning.
She said, "We estimate that on average 150,000 abortions are performed per year. Of this number, some 10–15 percent of abortions are performed abroad and this number is definitely growing."
Janusz Radzinski, a German doctor near the Polish border, commented, "Several thousand Polish women terminate pregnancies in Germany every year." The abortion debate was triggered in Poland after a baby born alive after a botched abortion was left to scream in agony for more than 20 minutes until he died, with no medical care.
The passing of the legislation occurs under the backdrop of massive anti-government protests in Poland this past week.
Since December 16, protests have been held outside of the Polish Parliament, protesting alleged governmental restrictions on free speech. The Law and Justice Party (PiS), the ruling party, has announced that starting in January news media will no longer be allowed inside the Sejm, or the Parliament building, with the exception of specially authorized journalists.
The protests started with the exclusion of an opposition Member of Parliament (MP), Michal Szczerba, from parliamentary proceedings. Szczerba was dismissed when he spoke at the lectern with a clearly visible note that read, "Free media in the Sejm."
When the speaker of the House dismissed Szczerba, a larger group of opposition MPs blocked the lectern so as to stop the proceedings. The speaker then promptly finished proceedings and moved the ongoing events to a smaller location, out of view of the media.
There, parliamentary members voted on the budget, without media attention and without all MPs present. As a result of the protests, Parliament has discarded the planned restrictions on media presence inside the Sejm.
The PiS, after winning the 2015 elections, didn't recognize justices appointed to the Constitutional Tribunal by the outgoing political party, but appointed its own justices and limited the constitutional power of the court, according to critics.
When the PiS introduced a bill in April that would make abortion illegal in all circumstances, massive protests by the pro-abortion lobby in Poland sprang up. After more demonstrations in October, the bill was finally voted on and was defeated, owing to the efforts of pro-abortion activists. The proposed legislation was defeated by a margin of 352–58 in the lower house.