Polish lower house votes down civic draft law on abortion on demand

Poland’s lower house voted down a civic draft law on safe termination of pregnancy and other reproductive rights on Thursday.

The proposed provisions envisioned the right to abortion until the 12th week. The patient would not have been inquired as to what motivated their decision. Under the law abortion could be legal after the 12th week, provided the pregnancy posed a threat to the life, or physical or mental health of a pregnant woman, when the prenatal diagnosis or other medical presumptions indicated developmental or genetic abnormalities of an embryo, or when the pregnancy resulted from an illegal act being subject to declaration by the pregnant person.

In line with the draft law, abortion could have been refunded by the National Health Fund (NFZ). A pregnant person aged 13 and more could independently make the decision. In the case of people aged below 13, approval by their legal custodian would be required. Should they provide no such approval, a guardianship court could do so.

As the authors of the draft law argue, it could also have guaranteed the right to information, education and counselling allowing for full delivery of the right to conscious parenthood. Had the law passed the entire legislative path, it would have removed penalisation for doctors and people assisting in an abortion.

Under the draft law, should a medical entity refuse to carry out an abortion procedure without providing a reason, it would be penalised.

A total of 265 MPs were for the rejection of the draft law, 175 were in favour and four abstained.

The lower house hall resounded with “pro-life” slogans chanted during the vote.

While the leader of the Pan-Polish Women’s Strike argued that the draft law would put Poland – considered to have one of the strictest abortion laws in the EU – among civilised countries, the ruling Law and Justice’s (PiS) MP Anna Milczanowska stressed that her caucus “is absolutely against the draft in its entirety” as “it stands at odds with the right to life, freedom of conscience, expression of views and parental rights.”