Law protecting pre-born children with Down syndrome takes effect in Poland

By Jonathon Van Maren

A ruling by Poland’s constitutional court on October 22 banning eugenic abortions triggered widespread outrage and massive protests, with leftist groups of every stripe attempting to utilize the “abortion revolution” to further their cause. I spoke with pro-life leaders in Poland at the time, and they noted that the ruling had become a flashpoint for dissatisfaction of every type—but that the Polish people have actually become far more pro-life since the end of Communism rather than more pro-abortion. Many suspected the government would back down in the face of the backlash, and there were signs that this might be the case.

But as of Wednesday, January 27, the new law has taken effect, banning nearly all abortions. The protests had delayed the Law and Justice government’s implementation, and abortion activists have announced more protests—but the new protections for pre-born children have taken effect. Government officials announced last week that Law and Justice would begin focusing on assistance for the parents of disabled children, something the Polish pro-life movement has also made a priority. “The state can no longer take a life away only because someone is sick, disabled, in poor health,” PiS lawmaker Bartlomiej Wroblewski stated.

Abortion is now only legal in Poland in the cases of rape and incest or when the mother’s life or health is in danger. Many doctors refuse to perform abortions on ethical and religious grounds. Abortion protestors interviewed by the media displayed open ableism. “This idiotic ruling will not prevent abortions,” said Cezary Jasiński, a 23-year-old student, told the press in front of the Court in Warsaw. “But for every woman who will experience pain because of this ruling, or will be forced to give birth to a child with Down’s Syndrome, they (court judges) will be to blame.”

The press, unsurprisingly, has ignored the ableist aspect of this. Nearly 99% of people with Down syndrome report being happy with their lives; 96% like how they look; 97% like who they are. When abortion activists say that abortion is an act of mercy, they don’t mean for these happy people. They mean for themselves. In Poland, these children are—for the moment—protected. As they should be.

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