Comments on the proposed Law 'On Planned Parenthood'
Ewa Kowalewska and Antoni Szymanski
It is most likely that the scandalous draft bill 'On Planned Parenthood' will be read in the Parliament this year. The draft of the bill was proposed by 51 MPs of the SLD Club. Currently, the project was directed to the Legislative Commission of the Polish Parliament (the Sejm), which is to consider if the proposed law is not contrary to the constitution. Regardless of the opinion of the Commission, even if it unambiguously confirms such contradiction (which is very unlikely considering the fact that the left wing has a majority in the Commission), the draft will nevertheless come up for debate. Having in mind that the main aim of this law is to signal some part of the left wing electorate that it can count on its representatives, who are ready to introduce a most controversial, antihuman bill as well as turning public opinion away from the way the most important problems are solved nowadays, one should inform people about the proposed law and show its solutions. The society must be aware of what some of our representatives in the Sejm propose.
1. The law introduces total freedom to kill conceived children
The proposed solutions introduce abortion on demand not only - as the drafters state - performed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, but also at every moment until delivery, for example when a pregnancy can lead to deterioration of the woman's physical health. This results from Article 9.1 'The woman has the right to terminate a pregnancy, performed during the first 12 weeks' and Article 9.2, 'The woman has the right to determinate a pregnancy after 12 weeks of its duration if the continuation of pregnancy threatens woman's life or can cause deterioration of her condition...'
The Minister of Justice, evaluating Article 9.2 in his letter to the Polish Parliament, has stated that the law has an extremely wide formulation, 'since every pregnancy can influence and very often does influence woman's physical health'.
One should pay attention to the definition of health introduced by WHO, 'Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity'. The draft calls the decision to terminate a pregnancy 'woman's right', which the woman has practically from the moment of childbirth, passing over the father's right completely.
2. The law permits terminating teen pregnancy and giving teen girls contraceptives (including abortion pills) without any age limit and without their parents' consent
A medical practitioner has to perform teen abortion on demand.
Article 14.2 'In case of a teen pregnancy a medical practitioner can, on the girl's demand, help her in the sphere of prevention or termination of pregnancy without the consent of her statutory agent and guardianship court...'
A medical practitioner is obliged to keep it secret and shall be fined if he/she informs the parents (Article 12).
3. The law fully obliges the physician to prescribe contraceptives (including abortion pills) on woman's demand, even if he/she opposes it because of the woman's good and health.
It results from Article 11, which states that medical personnel cannot plead the so-called freedom of conscience in matters concerning pregnancy prevention.
4. The law introduces sexual education as obligatory subject in the first grade of elementary school.
This formulation eliminates pro-family education in school (it results from the reasons for the law). It proposes obligatory indoctrination of children in the sphere of sexuality, violating parents' right to educate their children in accord with their beliefs and to protect them from demoralization Article 6.1 'The school programme shall include the subject 'Knowledge about human sexuality' Article 6.2 'The subject in question is obligatory from the first grade of elementary school'.
5. The law lifts the ban on research experiments on conceived children (Article 14) and legal protection of the child's health (Article 13).
The drafters give false (considerably overstated) data concerning illegal abortions, stating groundlessly that there are 100,000 - 200,000 illegal abortions performed each year (Reasons, p. 1). Whereas the governmental report for 2003 on the Law 'On Family Planning' estimates that there were several up to several dozen thousand cases.
It is worth mentioning that in 1977, when termination of pregnancy because of social reasons was legal and performed free of charge in state medical centres, there were 3,047 abortions. Even if we assumed that the number of illegal abortions was the same, the number of performed abortions would be about 7,000.
The consequence of a big number of illegal abortions would be a considerable increase of medical complications related to performed abortions, but the data of the subsequent years of implementing the Law 'On Family Planning' indicate that the tendency is opposite - improvement of women's health, including a decrease of spontaneous miscarriages in comparison with the period when abortion was legal in Poland.
One should also remember that in all the countries where abortion on demand is legal, the underground market for abortions still exists (for example because of taxes). However, we notice an increased number of women's deaths because of termination of pregnancy (both legal and illegal). For example in the years 1972-99 in the USA 459 women died of abortions, including 351 deaths after legal abortions had been performed (data of the US Department of Health, November 2003). In Poland there has only been one case of such a death within 11 years since the Law 'On Family Planning' was introduced. It was caused by a drastic violation of the law by a private medical practitioner. Finally, more important information: introduction of the Law 'On Planned Parenthood' is - according to the drafters - to take 2,252,000,000 PLN from the state budget!
The draft of the Law 'On Planned Parenthood', the opinion of the Constitutional Tribunal and some papers about implementation of the Law 'On Family Planning' can be found on website www.hli.org.pl 'Important documents'.