In April 2016, Poland was moved by the failed abortion of a baby with Down syndrome, born alive at 24 weeks of pregnancy. It cried for one hour, abandoned, before dying.
The event had a strong impact and both Pro-life and pro-abortion mouvements reacted. They got together to call upon the government through participatory democracy, which authorises, through the intermediary of at least 100 000 citizens to suggest a legislative reform.
In this case, the citizen comité “let’s helpwomen” collected 220 000 signatures to ask for abortion to be legalized only until the twelth week of pregnancy, and then its limitation for the rest of the pregnancy, with the three exceptions still existing today.
“Stop Abortion”, the pro-life citizen committee, collected almost 500 000 signatures from citizens asking for a complete protection of human life, with the suppression of the exceptions. Its demand aims at instorating a sanction regime, except in case of danger for the mother, which leads to maximum 5 years of prison for the women who aborted as well as for the doctor who carried out the abortion.
This sanction project is causing division in the pro-life movements: the Polish Federation for pro-life movements, which shares the ideas of the « Stop Abortion » citizen’s committee concerning the total protection of human life, however handed in a petition to the parliament committee, a mirror version which doesn’t include the penalty for women. Polish bishops, who condemn abortion, believe it would be immoral to punish women, “second victims of abortion”.
At the moment, the law called « Status Quo », in place since 1993 and modified in 1997, authorizes abortion in 3 three cases: abortion authorised in case of danger for the mother, rape, or serious medical affection of the fœtus. Statistics have shown that in Poland, the number of abortions related to the two first cases are very low. “It is different for the eugenistic exception which, every year, is responsible of a growing number of legal abortions: over 90% of abortions. Thus, in 2015, out of 1040 legal abortions, 996 were engenistic”, explains Jekub Baltroszewicz, President of One of Us Poland. This last option authorizes abortion until the day before the baby is born.
On Friday 23rd September, parliamentarians discarded the pro-abortion proposition and passed on the pro-life proposition to the parliamentarian commission Justice and Rights of Men, which will look into the proposition and debate upon it. If the status quo presently seems impossible, it is difficult to know how long the debate will last for and what the proposition that will come back to the Parliament will be like. But it seems quite probable that it will be orientated towards a greater protection of human lives.