Catholic Church Defends Poland Law to Ban Abortion Except in Extreme Cases

Abortion protest
People demonstrate against the Polish government's plan of tightening the abortion law in front of the Parliament in Warsaw, Poland April 3, 2016. Banner reads: 'Hell of women continues'. |

The Roman Catholic Church in Poland is coming out in support of a proposed law that would increase regulations on abortion in the European country to protect life from conception to death.

As Reuters reports, Poland's abortion laws allow the termination of a pregnancy if the mother's life is in danger, in cases of rape or incest, or if the baby would be severely deformed.

The legislation, which is being proposed by the conservative Law and Justice Party, will make unborn life protection laws even stronger, allowing termination of pregnancy only in cases where mothers face a medical emergency.

Poland's Catholic Church, which has the most adherents in the country, has backed the proposed law, stating in an open letter read across churches Sunday that it protects human life "from conception to natural death."

The letter reads in part: "When it comes to the life of the unborn, we can't remain at the current compromise set out in the law," which was adopted in 1993. The bishops added: "We call on people of goodwill, believers and nonbelievers, to act so as to fully protect the life of the unborn from a legal point of view."

The bishops also argued that God calls for the protection of all life, pointing to one of the Ten Commandments in the Bible, which states "Thou shalt not kill."

"Therefore, the position of Catholics in this regard is clear and unchanging," the Catholic leaders added, noting that Pope Francis also frequently speaks out on the need to support families and protect unborn life.

Thousands of pro-choicers rallied outside parliament in Warsaw Sunday, however, chanting phrases such as "keep your hands off the uterus" and "my body, my business," Reuters noted.

The protest was reportedly organized by the left-wing Together Party, which has slammed the proposed law by the conservative government.

Unborn life protection laws in Poland have limited abortions to around 700 to 1,800 per year in the nation of 38 million people, though feminist groups claim that between 100,000 to 150,000 women undergo illegal abortions, or terminate their pregnancy at clinics abroad.

Prime Minister Beata Szydło has backed the Catholic bishops in the national debate, advocating for a "complete ban on abortion."

She has also said that her standpoint on abortion is her "personal opinion and not necessarily that of all members" in her party, and said they will not be required to vote on the law.

The legislation is expected to be taken up by parliament soon, as a pro-life petition is approaching the 100,000 signatures needed in order to force a vote on the issue.

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