Pro-choice activists from the Your Movement party demonstate at a hospital in Wolomin. Photo: PAP/Jakub Kaminski
“The decision on whether to have an abortion should be made by women, because it's us who carry the child for nine months,” said Agnieszka Stupkiewicz-Turek from the liberal Your Movement party, which organised the pro-choice demonstration.
The Wolomin council passed the resolution on changing the statute at the hospital after the head of another Warsaw clinic, Professor Bogdan Chazan, was informed that he would be dismissed for not carrying out an abortion and declining to help the mother have the surgery elsewhere.
Professor Chazan had invoked his right to use the 'conscience clause' in Polish law, which allows Catholic doctors to refuse an abortion, provided that they refer the patient to another clinic.
The Your Movement party wants to amend the law so that medics can no longer resort to the conscience clause.
After Professor Chazan declined the abortion, knowing that the child would be brain-damaged, the baby was ultimately born on 30 June, but it died days later in hospital.
Your Movement's current campaign, which is called “Chazan's children', involves brandishing explicit pictures of malformed babies.
Pro-life demonstrators. Photo: PAP/Jakub Kaminski
However, Andrzej Gruza, director of the hospital in Wolomin, has said that he supports the local council's decision to rule out abortions at the clinic.
He told Polish Radio that during the one and a half years in which he has held his post, no abortion has been carried out at the hospital, and that his staff always encourage women seeking abortions to go through with births.
Regional Governor Jacek Kozlowski has until 5 August to take a decision regarding the hospital, and lawyers are currently analysing whether the resolution could be considered valid.
Poland's laws only permit abortions if a woman's life or health is jeopardised by the continuation of a pregnancy, if the pregnancy is a result of a criminal act such as rape, or if the foetus is seriously malformed. The abortion must be carried out in the first 25 weeks of the pregnancy. (nh)