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

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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. 28th, 2016. Read part one here.

Honourable Speaker of the House,
Honourable Prime Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen of the House,

Two weeks ago, when I was presenting the draft act initiated by citizens concerning full protection of human life at the prenatal stage and assistance for mothers and families, I was urging you for a fact-based discussion, devoid of unnecessary emotions, on the draft act which was supported by almost half a million of all voters; majority of them were most likely the hard core supporters of the current parliamentary majority. I ensured you that we were ready to discuss any point of the draft if such a discussion treated the constitutional safeguards and rules resulting from the legal order seriously. This was the kind of discussion that we had been hoping for during the legislative process.

Two weeks ago, by overwhelming majority you directed the draft to subsequent works at the level of committees. I would like to ask what had happened during those 14 days that the Justice Committee, in a hurry, without duly informing the applicants, decided to reject the draft act without any debate and giving the applicant any right to speak?

As I wish to assure you that since 23rd September the draft has not changed. It is still the same print no. 784 that you welcomed enthusiastically and which gave a chance of protection to the weakest, the defenceless ones, who cannot take care of their own rights.

From a position of strength you have trampled the hopes of those who are discriminated against because of their disability, age, circumstances of conception or birth. What you have done is ordinary violence of the stronger against the weaker ones, and the weaker ones are the weakest. And that has nothing to do with respect of human rights in the 21st century.

Two weeks ago you also presented doubts regarding some provisions of the act. What made you give up submitting amendments to the draft? It is you who have the right to modify the texts presented to the Sejm and only you have impact on the final shape of acts. When the draft was forwarded to the committee you had at your disposal all tools to introduce changes, modifications of the provisions that in your opinion should not have been included in the laws guaranteeing equal legal protection of life. Meanwhile, for some barely understandable reasons, you decided to make a U-turn in your position from two weeks ago – and did it in matters of utmost importance, in matters related to human life. It is an expression of disregard for both mechanisms of direct democracy and civic society, and for us – women desiring full protection of life.

Honourable Speaker,
Ladies and Gentlemen of the House,

Many myths arose around the draft under deliberation, which were then with great carelessness repeated in the public debate. Therefore, let me remind you that:

First of all, it is untrue that the applicants fail to notice women and families in dire situations. Quite on the contrary. Nobody knows women’s difficult situation better. We wish to provide them with deserved, adequate care and assistance from the state. Assistance-related projects were presented to the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy as early as in June this year. It is 6thOctober today. Due to reasons unknown to us they remain frozen. In order to recover full protection of unborn children, the draft assumes that situations which up until now had allowed lawful murdering of children through abortion will entitle families to receive financial help and assistance from the state. The assistance package ensures inclusion of perinatal hospices into the system of state funded public healthcare and developing long-term paediatric home care. The package encompasses, moreover, psychological support for women, specifies simplified adoption procedures, promotes development of special, emergency adoption centres. It abolishes “regionalization” of maternity homes and proposes to introduce a health-related pregnancy benefit for women who are not covered with social insurance if, as a result of pregnancy, they cannot render work in its course.

Secondly, the draft confirms that as an addressee of medical care, each child is endowed with patient’s rights, including the right to information, e.g. access to prenatal tests, which is exercised in his or her name by the parents. Currently, prenatal diagnosis awakes controversies for one reason – it is the basis for unpunished abortion. If we revoke the premises permitting abortion, the tests will regain their diagnostic character and therapeutic significance. And the draft additionally strengthens the child’s right to prenatal diagnosis exercised by his or her parents through confirming the child’s status as a patient at the prenatal stage of development.

The draft also provides safety to doctors performing prenatal diagnosis. Many tests (in particular invasive in nature) are burdened with natural risk for the patient. The right describes it as acceptable medical risk. Medical personnel performing such tests is not responsible for any possible complications (including patient’s death) under regular conditions. Therefore, according to the draft prenatal diagnosis is following the same rules as all diagnostic tests nowadays.

Thirdly, the draft does not pose obstacles against saving mother’s life. Quite on the contrary, it demands that mother’s life be saved at the cost of her unborn child. The mother is a guarantor of the child’s life. We cannot lead to a situation when a doctor will abstain from saving the mother’s life. Therefore, the draft foresees not only the possibility but the necessity to save mother’s life if it is potentially threatened (like in the case of ectopic pregnancy). In such a situation, the doctor must be aware that his or her actions undertaken in order to save the woman’s life may lead, unintentionally, to the child’s death. These circumstances are stipulated in the draft, and the doctor does not bear any criminal responsibility for such actions.

Fourthly, there is no criminal responsibility for actions undertaken in order to save women’s health. Even if, according to the most recent medical knowledge and with the doctor following the principles of medicine, they may lead to health disorders or bodily damage of the unborn child, they are fully acceptable according to the draft. Rules for doctor’s responsibility are not different that those governing responsibility in the case of other types of medical procedures.

Fifthly, concerns regarding instigation of litigations in the case of miscarriage are ungrounded. Miscarriage is not an event that in itself could lead to “reasonable suspicion of commitment of a criminal act” (Article 303 of the Polish Code of Criminal Procedure). Any fears concerning unjustified litigations against women are groundless. Any actions of the police force or the prosecutor’s office may only result from additional and credible circumstances proving the child’s unnatural death, just like in the case of the death of a new-born or a senior, infirm person who is dependent on the care of his or her adult children.

Sixthly, it is not true that the draft is about punishing women. The draft reinstates criminal law protection of a child’s life at the prenatal stage of development, instead of the protection of impersonal “condition of pregnancy” up until now. Thus, any attempt on the life of an unborn child, just like any attempt on the life of a man at a later stage of development, should be followed by a criminal reaction from the state. The necessity to introduce such legal changes is proven by the so called “Wroclaw case” – a surrogate mother in her ninth month learns that the client withdrew from the contract and does not wish to pay for the child that had been “contracted”. The child is healthy, fully able to live outside of the mother’s body, is soon to be born, yet having received the information the woman leads to the child’s death. Currently, the Polish law makes it impossible to take any criminal law steps against the female killer. The child is fully dependent on the mother’s choice – it is the very essence of the pro-choice attitude.

However, if these arguments do not appeal to you, you had the chance to delete adequate provisions from the draft. Why did you refuse to work on the text of the print no. 784?

Seventhly, in the draft the child’s mother was secured against any ungrounded criminal responsibility. She is released from any responsibility for killing her child unintentionally. What is more, even if the mother deprives her unborn child of life on purpose, due to multifacedness of such situations, the draft always allows the court to waive punishment.

Above all he who forces a women to abort or provides to her abortive measures or services should be subject to punishment. This way, safeguarding full legal protection of the child’s life is reconciled with the possibility of not punishing the woman.

Honourable Speaker,
Ladies and Gentlemen of the House,

Most likely many of the deputies sitting here enjoy for the first time appreciation from the editors in Czerska Street in Warsaw. It is a significant memento for the parliamentary majority.

However, once again, on behalf of a half a million Polish citizens, your voters, I urge you to defend the weakest children, who are sometimes not defended even by their own mothers.

And the question is: will you dare to defend all the weakest and the most defenceless ones, without making any selection? Or perhaps you prefer, following the strong media and international milieus, to accept thousands of those silent murders that are committed in the quiet of gynaecological examination rooms?

Honourable Speaker,
Ladies and Gentlemen of the House,

Two weeks ago, standing here I was saying that abortion is a slaughter of innocent children, a hell for women and a moral disgrace of men.

When two weeks ago you granted strong and clear support for the protection of children’s life at the prenatal stage of development, Polish people’s hopes for law based on values were becoming reality. Values of human life, respect for children, women and families. We were happy that you decided to put an end to years of disgrace of the Polish Sejm, who was unable to start works on the protection of inborn and inalienable rights during the previous term of office.

We still hope that it is possible. We still want to believe that a shift took place a year ago that will change Polish politics. Since “a nation that kills its own children becomes a nation without future.”

LASĂ UN RĂSPUNS

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