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Poland rejects call for a near-total abortion ban

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Poland's parliament has voted overwhelmingly to reject a Citizens’ Initiative for a near-total ban on abortion, following a series of protests and international pressure.

MPs voted to reject the ‘Stop Abortion’ Bill by 352 votes to 58, on Thursday morning, after a long debate that had been continued from the previous night.

Currently, Poland only allows abortion to happen in cases of incest, rape, and threats to the mother’s life. The bill sought to protect life further and ban all abortion unless the mother’s life is at risk.
 

Citizens' Initative

It came from a Citizens’ Initiative that gathered over 450,000 supporting signatures, and was initially welcomed by the government.

Despite not being a government bill, and giving MPs a free vote, it had won the unofficial backing of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS). Many PiS MPs voted to back the proposals before they went before parliament last month.

On 23 September, the Sejm – Poland’s lower house of Parliament – voted 267-154 to send the initiative on to the Commission of Justice and Human Rights to allow for further deliberations.
 

Support revoked

However, following international pressure and protests, on Monday, Poland’s Prime Minister, Deputy Minister, many MPs and the Catholic Church revoked their support of the bill.

Ahead of the vote, Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin moved to reassure women on Wednesday that a total ban would not get through.

"Abortion will certainly not be banned when the woman is the victim of rape or if her life or her health is in danger," he insisted.

Meanwhile the Bishops’ Conference said in a statement: "We support all law proposals that call for the full protection of life from conception to natural death. But we do not support rules that would punish women who have an abortion."
 

Misunderstanding

On his Party’s U-Turn, PiS' leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said: "We are dealing here with a giant misunderstanding".

"We have the utmost respect for those who signed the proposal. But we have come to the conclusion, observing the social situation, that this would be a factor leading to protests."  

He stressed that his party "is and will be for the protection of life."

"A nation that kills its own children is a nation without a future," said Joanna Banasiuk, an advocate of the bill. "What has happened? This is the same project that recently received the enthusiastic support of the state."
 

Disproportionate representation

Jerzy Kwaśniewski from Ordo Iuris – the law firm who helped write the Citizens' Initiative – highlighted the disproportionate representation abortion activists receive over prolife campaigners.

He told the website pch24 that while the Monday Black Protest gathered less than 100,000 people in all of Poland, more than 200,000 took part in pro-life marches in June

"There is disproportion between the support of life, which is about two-thirds of Poland’s population, and the radical abortion movement," he said.


Related Links: 
Polish parliament votes to reject total ban on abortion after widespread protests (Telegraph)
BREAKING: Poland’s Conservative ruling party kills total abortion ban (Life Site) 

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