Poland to consider a ban on disability-selective abortion

Poland’s parliament will consider pro-life legislation this week which would outlaw abortion on the grounds of disability.

Poland currently allow abortion under certain circumstances, including if the baby is diagnosed with a ‘foetal abnormality’ which includes conditions such as Down’s Syndrome.

The proposed legislation would remove the provision of ‘foetal abnormality’ and protect unborn babies from discriminatory disability-selective abortions.

President Andrzej Duda has said he will sign the pro-life bill into law, telling Polish media source Niedziela in a recent interview: “I believe that killing children with disabilities is simply murder. If a project opposing this issue will find itself on my desk, I will certainly sign it.”

Poland’s abortion laws are not as permissive as in Britain or most of Europe, and in recent years, the pro-life movement in Poland has gained steady momentum. Recent polling within the country has found that there is strong support for pro-life measures in Poland. A CBOS poll found that 75 percent of Polish people think abortion is “always wrong and can never be justified.” Meanwhile, only 7 percent thought there was “nothing wrong with it and could always be justified.”

Another signal of the strong support for pro-life policies in the country, the proposed legislation comes from a Citizens’ Initiative that was backed by over 830,000 Polish residents. Under Polish law, parliament is legally required to consider any Citizens’ Initiative bills that gain over 100,000 signatures within six months of its formation – in this context, by May 2020.

Despite overwhelming public support for pro-life initiatives, it is still unclear how much support the bill will receive from the Law and Justice party in power in Poland despite it being submitted by one of their own MPs, Elzbieta Witek.

It follows on from 2016, when the Law and Justice Party initially gave their support to a similar pro-life Citizens’ Initiative but went on to withdraw its support following protests from abortion activists.

In this context, pro-life campaigners in Poland are cautiously welcoming the proposed legislation, and are aware that similar pressure from abortion extremist groups seeking to keep eugenic disability-selective abortions legal could see the ruling Law and Justice Party falter once again. 

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