Abortion ban: Polish Sejm rejects civil bill on implementing abortion ban

14:21 Oct. 6, 2016

Polish Sejm rejects civil bill on implementing abortion ban

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo addresses lawmakers in the Polish parliament amid a heated debate on a proposal to restrict the abortion law in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016 (AP Photo)

After a heated discussion, Sejm decided to leave the legislation as it is

The ruling right-wing PiS party voted against the bill on tightening abortion laws. Overall, 352 MPs voted for the rejection, 58 - against and 18 - abstained. 

Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, who has a pro-life position, promised to present a new governmental program of supporting families and mothers who want to give birth and raise children from so-called "difficult pregnancies". The project will be announced by the end of October. Moreover, the government plans to implement a wide information campaign aimed at protection of life.

The civil bill was proposed several weeks ago. It supposed a total ban on pregnancy terminations unless they pose a direct threat to a woman's life. The project sparked many discussions. 

On Wednesday, October 5, Parliament's Justice and Human Rights Committee recommended withdrawing the controversial motion. Fifteen members of Committee on Justice and Human Rights voted to withdraw the document. One person – abstained from voting. Committee has examined positions of all parliamentary fractions representatives and recommended not to vote for the motion.

Read more Black protest aftermath: tensions grow, first clashes with police (video)

On Monday, September 3, a so-called Black protest took place in many Polish cities. Women in black went to the streets, holding wire hangers – a symbol of illegal abortions. They demanded the new law should not implement. The controversial situation was even debated in the European parliament. Yet, the heated debates did not end with any decision, as the European Union has no powers over abortion policy and cannot interfere in member states' policies in this area.

Read more European Parliament will discuss Polish abortion ban law

Debates sparked in Poland over a proposal to completely ban abortions by the woman's own free will. They are already considered illegal in Poland, but it is allowed to terminate the pregnancy if a woman was raped, a fetus is unviable or a woman's life is at risk. 

The new proposal would make all abortions illegal, even in cases of rape or when the woman's life is at risk, with prison terms of up to five years for women seeking abortions and doctors who perform them.

The proposal 'for' came from an anti-abortion citizens' initiative that gathered 450,000 signatures in the nation of 38 million, and is supported by the church. Law and Justice, which has a majority in parliament, includes supporters of the proposal but it's not clear if there are enough to push it through.

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo - supported the motion and last week called the situation with women rights in Poland "an imaginary problem". 

"The EU is continuing to deal with imaginary problems. I'm more and more convinced that a change of the EU treaty is necessary. We need to reform the EU. We cannot function like that anymore", PM Szydlo declared. The European Parliament is losing its credibility" - she observed during a presser with deputy PM Marcin Morawicki.


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