Poland's prime minister spoke out Tuesday regarding a nationwide abortion debate after a Catholic doctor refused to perform the life-ending procedure on a patient, even though the fetus had severe abnormalities.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in a statement Tuesday that the well-known Warsaw obstetrician Bogdan Chazan must choose the law over his faith after the doctor refused to perform an abortion on a fetus who reportedly had severe physical and brain abnormalities.
"Regardless of what his conscience is telling him, [a doctor] must carry out the law," Tusk said in a statement, according to The Associated Press. "Every patient must be sure that […] the doctor will perform all procedures in accordance with the law and in accordance with his duties."
The Associated Press adds that Chazan is one of 3,000 doctors in the largely Catholic nation who have signed a "Declaration of Faith," vowing that their religious conscience will guide their professional life and that they are opposed to practices like abortion and euthanasia that serve as "imposed, anti-human ideologies of contemporary civilization." Chazan is the director of the Holy Family children's hospital in Warsaw.
The woman who was rejected by Chazan has filed a complaint with the country's health minister, and the case is now being reviewed. The prime minister said in his statement on Tuesday that the legality of Chazan's decision will be left up to the courts, if the incident is brought to trial.
Doctor Wanda Półtawska, who wrote the country's "Declaration of Faith," previously told Polskie Radio that she did so because some elements of "modern medicine" go against Catholic morals. "The entire problem with abortion, artificial insemination, and finally, rejecting God as the Creator by performing in-vitro fertilization, poses a threat to the eternal life of all people who commit these deeds."
Poland's strict abortion laws only grant women the life-ending procedure before 25 weeks of pregnancy and if the mother's life is in grave danger, if the fetus is known to have severe birth defects, or if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.
In 2011, the Polish government narrowly rejected a bill that would have illegalized abortion in all cases. The bill failed to pass parliament by a 191 to 186 vote, but the massive public support for the bill revealed Poland's views on abortion. The bill reportedly needed 100,000 signatures to receive a parliament vote, and it gained 600,000 in a mere two weeks.