The truth about the Polish pro-life law. Speech in Polish Parliament (I)

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On behalf of the sponsors of the draft law for full protection of life, dr. Joanna Banasiuk, vicepresident of Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture speaks in the Sejm (lower house of the Polish legislative). Part two – given Oct. 11th, 2016. Read part two here.

Dear Speaker,
Dear Members of Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I stand here in the name and on behalf of nearly half a million of the citizens of the Republic of Poland who expressed their support for the “Stop Abortion” draft legislative initiative. Another 150 thousand voters called on you – members of the Polish Parliament – to grant children the full legal protection, also in the prenatal stage of their development. In a short period of time more than 600 thousand of your voters expressed the wish that you firmly stand for the protection of the most vulnerable Poles: children and women who lose their lives and suffer mentally due to abortion. Abortion means the slaughter of innocent babies, the hell of women and the moral disgrace of men. It was first inflicted on Polish people by Nazi criminals, and next imposed by the communist regime on a massive scale.

Speaker, Members of Parliament,

Some months ago, at the Warsaw-based Holy Family Hospital, little Wiktorek, having been born alive during abortion, was dying alone, left without any medical assistance and deprived of his fundamental rights. For half an hour of his wailing in agony nobody even tried to soothe his pain. All Poles showed their compassion to this little baby with Down syndrome, taken by violence out of the mother’s body and left to die in anguish.

Meanwhile, the Polish Patients’ Ombudsman, Krystyna Kozłowska asserted that the law was not breached, referring in this respect to the opinions of national medical consultants! [1].

If the law lets the hospital staff stand and watch the agonizing baby and wait until he/she dies instead of giving him/her care and assistance, such law is simply inhumane. This is legislative lawlessness! And the law often labelled as “compromise” is just the case of such legislative lawlessness. Because this compromise causes killings!

“Abortion exceptions”, as introduced twenty years ago, are more and more widely interpreted. Fifteen years ago, abortion was the cause of death of slightly more than 100 children per year. Today, under the same, unchanged legislation, the number of abortions has increased tenfold [2]. According to the statistics [3] published in 2007 in British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, one out of ten children who undergo abortion after the 23th week of pregnancy will die like Wiktorek, suffering in solitude. Others will not even have the chance to give their first cry as their life will be stifled already in the mother’s womb. The older ones, with Down syndrome, are already in their twentieth or more week of age. The death takes them when externally provoked labor contraction crush their tiny bodies.

At present, more than 900 abortions per year are performed on babies with a suspected handicap due to, among all, Down, Turner or Edward syndromes. Yet, healthy babies are killed too, i.e. those who were conceived in “circumstances witch substantiate the suspicion of the prohibited act being committed”. For all of them, the hope lies in the “Stop Abortion” Initiative which sets to introduce the full protection of the life of each and every child, both before and after birth.

Speaker, Members of Parliament,

While in 1956 communists were implementing in Poland Soviet-inspired abortion measures, these were promoted by the public prosecutor Helena Wolińska – the woman involved in court killings perpetrated on the heroes of the underground independence fighters, among all on the general August Fieldorf “Nil”. Back then, she was writing with satisfaction about “the invalidation of the legal protection of the human fetus” enacted by the legislatively enacted impunity of abortion [4]. Unfortunately, in today’s free Poland, the position taken by public prosecutor Wolińska continues to have a number of fervent proponents.

The fight against the communism-inflicted enslavement meant equally the fight for the legal protection of children before birth, which was the Polish people’s promise made to their Queen at Jasna Góra Sanctuary in their National Vows. The first bill on the protection of life was lodged in 1989. In 1993, a major step was made on the way towards the full protection of the life of children before birth, and now we can finally complete this work, fulfilling the vows made by our Mothers and Fathers at Jasna Góra.

Today, we can finally discard the legislative lawlessness legacy of the Stalinism era. Today, we can give each child, even if sick or conceived in traumatic circumstances, a chance for a safe birth. It will just be enough if we dare the change. It will just be enough if we choose life.

Speaker, Members of Parliament,

The protection of children at the earliest stage of their development also means the implementation of the basic rights of the child, those which stem from our Constitution and the norms of international law.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 – following in the steps of the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child – expressly sets forth that: “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth”. The Constitution of Poland grants the legal protection of life to everyone and requires that everyone be treated on equal terms. In 1997, the Polish Constitutional Court found beyond any doubt that “since its very onset, human life becomes a constitutionally protected value, also at its prenatal stage”. That is why the “Stop Abortion” Initiative removes unconstitutional rationales which allow for the killing of innocent children at the early stage of their development.

Among 196 countries of today’s world, 122 guarantee stronger protection of the life of unborn children than Poland [5]. Even in Europe, such countries as the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland or Malta grant to conceived children a higher standard of protection than Poland does.

Today, we have the chance to take the lead among these countries which set new, higher standards in the field of human rights and which effectively oppose the exclusion of the most vulnerable.

Speaker, Members of Parliament,

The “Stop Abortion” Citizens’ Initiative is intended to protect both children and women. In times where it has become a widespread practice to renounce the execution of death penalty, even for the most serious crimes, millions of innocent children are being killed all over the world with the full consent of the law. The United Nations indicate that the world population is already now affected by the shortage of 200 million girls who have fallen victim to sex-based selective abortion or infanticide. Most of all, a wider use of abortion causes the death of girls, both in Asia or in Africa, and in Europe and in the United States.

Abortion entails discrimination and death of women, including the death of mothers. This is clearly illustrated with the data provided by the World Bank and the World Health Organization. In Poland, maternal mortality rate has gone down fivefold since 1993 when access to abortion was limited! [6]; the statistics of the World Health Organization also unambiguously assert that, as a consequence, maternal mortality in Poland is twice lower than in Germany, three times lower than in England and nearly five times [7] (!) lower than in the United States [8]. In England – a country with an increasingly wider access to abortion – over the ten most recent years maternal mortality has become twice higher than in Ireland which grants the full protection of life [9]. And Mexican States which protect the life of children before birth record the maternal mortality rate which is 23% lower than in other States [10].

Abortion means the hell for children and for women equally, and it should be stopped once for all. The majority of Poles are fully aware of that. Among the respondents of the survey on the contents of the Initiative conducted in May by IBRIS [Institute of Market Research and Public Polls], more than 58% supported one of its proposals to introduce a complete ban on abortion, with an option to save a potentially threated mother’s life. Among the respondents aged 18-24, this solution was supported by nearly 80% of Poles.

Speaker, Members of Parliament,

In order to respond to such a wide public support for the legal protection of children before birth becoming equal to that granted to them after birth, we have prepared a draft bill which invalidates the existing discrimination on grounds of the development stage, the handicap, the circumstances of conception or birth, and guarantees at the same time the protection of the mother.

First of all, in order to restore the full legal protection of the life of conceived children, the bill assumes that circumstances which under the applicable law have allowed for an infant abortion-induced homicide will become now the grounds for providing the family concerned with State financial assistance and care.

Second of all, our bill ensures all possibilities of saving the mother’s life. It foresees that any medical treatment can be administered in order to save the mother’s life even if it can lead to the child’s death (as in the case of ectopic pregnancy). If the course of events inevitably leads to the death of the mother or the child, the mother will be the one to choose among available medical procedures.

Third of all, the bill states that the child who receives medical care before birth is entitled to the patient’s rights, including the right to information, exercised in his/her name by the parents. That is why the draft bill constitutes a unique opportunity to foster prenatal diagnostics. Under the applicable law, access to prenatal tests is mainly given in order to find indications for the abortive killing of the child. Our wish is that these tests serve again their diagnostic and therapeutic purpose and that they become generally available.

Fourth of all, the bill restores the legal-penal protection of the conceived child’s life in lieu of the current protection granted to the impersonal “pregnancy state”. Thereby, the bill, like the legislation in the overwhelming majority of the countries all over the world, introduces the criminal liability of all abortion offenders. This liability should be borne, in its full scope, first of all by those who have assisted or incited to take the conceived child’s life, including the child’s father who has successfully encouraged the mother to abort by providing her with abortifacients.

Furthermore, the bill safeguards the child’s mother against any unjustified criminal liability. She is freed from any liability for the unintentional killing of her child. The bill will change nothing in the situation of the mother who has suffered a miscarriage. What’s more, as it is provided for in the bill, even if the mother has intentionally taken her conceived child’s life, the court will still have the option to refrain from imposing a penalty. In that way, the full legal protection of the child’s life is reconciled with the possible abandonment of penalty for the woman concerned.

Speaker, Members of Parliament,

Today we are regaining the Polish State. Together we are restoring to our Homeland the dignity which has been held in contempt for so long. The time has come to act in favor of the protection of human life.

It will suffice to discard Helena Wolińska’s legacy from the Stalinist era and to start building Poland founded on the respect of the human being; this is the call that we find in the teachings of John Paul II – the most resolved promotor of human dignity and human rights.

As Poland is standing the chance to take the lead among those countries which set new, higher standards of human rights, you are standing the chance to choose life – for the benefit of women and children.

– to be continued –

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NOTES

1. Rzecznik praw pacjenta: pacjentka szpitala świętej rodziny mogła zdecydować o aborcji [Patients’ Ombudsman: the patient from the Holy Family Hospital had the right to decide to have abortion], Gazeta Prawna Daily, http://www.gazetaprawna.pl/artykuly/956262,rzecznik-praw-pacjenta-pacjentka-szpitala-swietej-rodziny-mogla-zdecydowac-o-aborcji.html
2. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Health, in 2001 there were 124 abortion procedures, while in 2014 they were 971. The National Health Fund quotes the number of 1,913 reimbursed abortion procedures conducted.
3. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-0528.2007.01279.x/abstract
4. H. Wolińska, Przerwanie ciąży w świetle prawa karnego [Abortion in the light of criminal law], Warsaw 1962. Wolińska had her say in the context of works on the revision of the legislation allowing for abortion. As a result, the bill was presented in 1963 which restored, among all, the punishment of the mother for abortion. The said bill was not adopted.
5. T. Zych, J. Kwaśniewski (eds.), Pełna ochrona prawna dziecka poczętego – aspekt prawnokarny [Full legal protection of the conceived child], http://www.ordoiuris.pl/pliki/dokumenty/pelna_ochrona_prawna.pdf, accessed on 21.06.2016. 123 countries foresee at least one abortion exception less than Poland does.
6. World Bank Database: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.MMRT?end=2015&locations=PL&name_desc=true&start=2015&view=bar; accessed on 22 September 2016.
7. World Bank Database: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.MMRT?end=2015&locations=PL&name_desc=true&start=2015&view=bar; accessed on 22 September 2016.
8. In Poland the rate value is 3 to 100,000, while in Germany 6 to 100,00, in the United Kingdom 9 to 100,000, and in the U.S. 14 to 100,000 (data for 2015).
9. Maternal and Neonatal Health and Abortion: 40-Year Trends in Great Britain and Ireland
Byron C. Calhoun, M.D., John M. Thorp, M.D., Patrick S. Carroll, M.A. (data for 2003-2013) http://www.jpands.org/vol18no2/calhoun.pdf
10. See also S. B. Fernández Cantón, G. Gutiérrez Trujillo,R. Viguri Uribe, La mortalidad materna y el aborto en México, [in:] „Boletín médico del Hospital Infantil de México” – Bol. Med. Hosp. Infant. Mex. 2012 no. 69(1), p. 77; E. Koch, M. Chireau, F. Pliego, J. Stanford, S. Haddad, B. Calhoun, P. Aracena, M. Bravo, S. Gatica, J. Thorp, Abortion legislation, Maternal healthcare, fertility, female literacy, sanitation, violence against women and maternal deaths: a natural experiment in 32 Mexican states, [in:] “BMJ Open”, pp. 2-9.