Polish Lawmakers Retreat on Pro-Life Legislation, Caving to Pressure from ‘Black Protests’
The new legislation would have protected all unborn life in Poland.
Poland lawmakers rejected proposed legislation on Thursday that would have strengthened protection for all unborn life.
Proposed by a Polish pro-life group and backed by 450,000 citizen signatures, the bill initially had strong support among the nation’s ruling Law and Justice party. But when it came time to vote, 352 voted against the bill, and only 58 voted for.
The drastic change in support came after thousands of women donned the color black, went on strike from work and school and marched through the streets in protest of the proposed legislation. The “black protests” took place over the course of several days before the bill went to a vote, climaxing earlier this week on what participants called “Black Monday,” with over 100,000 people taking to the streets throughout Poland and sympathetic protests popping up all over Europe.
Mariusz Dzierzawski of the Stop Abortion committee accused the Law and Justice party of “hypocrisy” for rejecting the proposed legislation at the last minute.
“What has happened in the last 14 days that you decided to go from protecting human life from the moment of conception to this?” Joanna Banasiuk asked.
Banasiuk presented the bill in a speech in Parliament that called abortion “the means the slaughter of innocent babies, the hell of women and the moral disgrace of men.” She pointed to abortion’s dehumanizing history, noting that “it was first inflicted on Polish people by Nazi criminals, and next imposed by the communist regime on a massive scale.”
According to The New York Times, the conservative Law and Justice party’s leader admitted that the protests impacted the final vote.
“Observing the social developments, we have come to a conclusion that this legislation will have an opposite effect to the one that was intended,”Jaroslaw Kaczynski said. “This is not the right way to proceed.”
The new law, if passed, would have placed a total ban on abortion across Poland. Doctors who performed abortions and women who received them could have been sentenced to up to five years in prison.
The current laws permit abortion only in cases of rape, incest, deformity, or when the life of the mother is in danger.
Opponents of the proposed legislation said it might have prevented doctors from performing prenatal exams for fear of being imprisoned over unintended miscarriage. The proposed legislation did include an exception, however, for doctors who unintentionally induced miscarriage during a procedure to save the mother.
The nation’s Catholic church supported the new initiative, though it said it did not support the imprisonment of women who received an abortion.
Even though the new legislation failed, Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said they are pursuing new ways to protect unborn life, including providing assistance for women who give birth to babies with disabilities or deformities. Szydlo also said the government would be pushing an informational campaign to “promote the protection of life.”
Note: On Wednesday, October 12 The Stream will launch #100forLife, commemorating the 100th anniversary of Planned Parenthood and remembering the millions of children killed. Click here for more details on what we are planning and how you can participate.