From the initiative of dr. Wanda Poltawska, a known defender of life and a friend of St. John Paul II, the Faith Declaration was created which was signed by over 3 thousand doctors, nurses and students of medicine. It stipulates, among the others, that ‘the moment of contraception of the human being and his death depends only on God’s decision’. Taking on this role by the man, for example, doing an abortion, is contradictory with the Decalogue. The conscience began to twitch, but within law defined earlier. For, in most EU countries the clause of conscience is binding. It is guaranteed, among the others, by the art. 9 of the Convention about the protection of human rights and the basic freedoms, as well as the Charter of Basic Rights of the European Union, in which it was written in the art.10, par.2 that ‘the right to refusal to an action contradictory with one’s conscience is acknowledged’.

Particular EU member countries have regulated the issue of the clause of conscience – including mainly rights to abortion – in their legislations, like in France in the Code of the public health and in the Code of medical ethics where it has been written that ‘a doctor has a right to refuse to provide medical service for personal and professional reasons. Also in Germany the law stipulates a refusal to do abortion by a doctor and medical personnel on the basis of the act from July 1992. In Great Britain the clause of conscience was sanctioned already in the act about abortion from 1967. The article 4 of this bill states that ‘nobody can be obliged (…) to participate in procedures permitted by this act which he rejects because of his beliefs’.

When recently in Poland prof. Bogdan Chazan, a gynecologist and a director of the hospital named the Holy Family in Warsaw has referred to the clause of conscience, by refusing to do abortion, outrage burst out. He was accused, among the others, of not having suggested another place where an unborn child could be killed, but he suggested care during pregnancy and labour and a possibility of using a hospice. In this matter the prime minister Donald Tusk spoke publicly, stating: ‘With all certainty the clause of conscience cannot be a justification for resigning from bringing help and saving the human life’. Prof. Chazan answered that he absolutely agreed with the prime minister: ‘A doctor is to save life, not taking it away’. Undoubtedly, the what the prime minister meant was a duty of suggesting another doctor who would do abortion; he announced a possibility of imposing ‘code liability’ on the known professor. The professor said that ‘suggesting another doctor doing abortion would be an indirect participation in carrying out abortion’. Strangely enough, Fr. Prof. Andrzej Szostek, an ethicist from the Catholic University of John Paul II in Lublin, often expressing his opinions on pages of ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’, has a different opinion and he clearly supported the prime minister. In an interview for the Polish Press Agency he said that ‘suggesting a possibility of doing abortion by another doctor, however painful for an opponent of abortion, cannot be treated as participation in doing abortion’. So, it is worth asking the question if such a formulated thesis of the Priest Professor is an official attitude of the Catholic Church?


"Niedziela" 25/2014

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: