15:52 Sep. 22, 2016
The bill would put Poland in a small global group with a total ban
Poland will debate a draft law to ban all abortions and curb sex education as the country's conservative government opens a new front in a cultural "counter-revolution" that has already roiled the country's economy and justice system.
Religious groups loosely supported by the ruling Law & Justice party have proposed the bill to tighten what is already one of the most restrictive regulations in the European Union. While the current law limits abortions to pregnancies stemming from rape or incest and cases where the mother or fetus faces serious health risk, they want a total ban that would put the Roman Catholic country of 38 million in a group of eight states that includes El Salvador, Guatemala and the Vatican.
The draft law, discussed by parliament on Thursday, is part of a push by Prime Minister Beata Szydlo to return Poland to its traditional Catholic roots. With a pledge to pull the country out of what her administration derides as a liberal European "mainstream," her party has overhauled the Constitutional Court and public media and triggered the EU's first-ever probe into the functioning of a member state's democracy.
While Law & Justice has not demanded its lawmakers support the bill, Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak defended the draft legislation, saying it would end practices that he compared to those pursued by Nazi Germany.
"I hope we'll have a change that will mean we depart from eugenics, or practices that are identical with those in Germany's time of Hitler, where abortion was allowed due to illnesses," Blaszczak told public radio 3 on Thursday. He said that because the current law allows abortions in case of pre-natal defects in the fetus, it meant that 4/5 of the procedures are due to Down Syndrome.