Poland’s Catholic Church has reiterated support for stricter pro-life controls, after parliamentarians voted down a law that would have sent aborting mothers to jail.
“Human life has such great value. It shouldn’t be the object of
political bargains,” said Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw-Praga,
chairman of the Polish bishops’ bioethics committee.
“This draft bill may have needed some corrections, but it was
prepared solidly enough. Its rejection leaves us in the same situation
as before,” he said.
The church leader’s comments to Poland’s Catholic Information Agency
came after the Warsaw parliament’s Oct. 6 rejection of the “Stop
Abortion” bill, 352-58, with 18 abstentions.
The legislation would have
banned all abortions unless a woman’s life was in danger.
Meanwhile, the Polish bishops’ conference said the sanctity of human
life had been stressed by St. John Paul II, but cautioned that the
church would not support laws that allowed aborting women to be
“Church institutions don’t deal with civil law projects, although
they use their right to express opinions on proposed legal regulations,”
the conference said in an Oct. 6 statement.
“We encourage prayers for women who fulfill the motherhood vocation
in their lives, as well as for those facing hardships,” the statement
Poland’s 1993 law, one of Europe’s tightest, restricts abortion to
cases of rape, incest, severe fetal damage or threats to a woman’s life,
and has cut registered terminations, according to Health Ministry data,
to around 1,000 nationwide per year.
Church leaders have threatened to deny sacraments to politicians
supporting liberalization, and backed the Stop Abortion project when it
was presented in March to the 460-seat parliament, where the
conservative Law and Justice party has held a majority since winning the
October 2015 elections.
The citizens’ legislation, drafted by Poland’s Ordo Iuris Institute
for Legal Culture with 450,000 signatures, would have outlawed abortions
even in rape cases, with penalties of five years in jail for mothers
and doctors, and 10 years if force was involved.
It was protested Oct. 3 by up to 100,000 women, dressed in black, who
staged strikes and rallies across Poland, but supported by rival
pro-life demonstrations, as well as in church Masses.
The Catholic chairwoman of the pro-life Forum of Polish Women, Ewa
Kowalewska, told KAI Oct. 3 that her organization had “protested
decisively” against the projected jailing of women, adding that she
believed the Stop Abortion bill had been drawn up by “young
However, in his interview, Archbishop Hoser said the bill’s rejection
had left a “legal regime hard to accept” and that the church would
continue demanding tougher abortion curbs.
“The fact that the church tackles this difficult problem via the
sacramental path doesn’t mean women having abortions are guiltless,” the
The head of Law and Justice, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, blamed the bill’s
rejection Oct. 6 on “a gigantic misunderstanding,” and said his party
would also continue defending life “in a more thought-out way.”