Poland's New Government to Push for Pro-Abortion Laws

Warsaw, Poland - The left-wing alliance which won Poland's general election last weekend announced plans on Wednesday to change the nation's strong pro-life laws - in a move certain to appal Polish-born Pope John Paul.

"We believe abortions should be allowed when the woman faces hardship," said Marek Pol, leader of the small Labour Union (UP) party allied to the election-winning ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD).

Pol told a news conference that such a bill would be a second priority after a rescue program for public finances, which could take several months to implement, and speeding up European Union membership talks.

The SLD-UP coalition, which won Poland's fourth free general elections since the 1989 fall of communism with 41 percent of the vote, will now embark on talks with other parties on forming a government - either a minority or coalition cabinet.

Poland's pro-life law, passed in 1997 by the outgoing rightist Solidarity government, allows abortion only in cases of irreparable damage to the unborn child, when the life of the mother is in danger or when pregnancy results from rape.

Those who perform illegal abortions face prison terms of up to two years.

The legislation was inspired by the Roman Cathlic Church, to which more than 90 percent of Poles belong, at least nominally. The Pope has repeatedly said during trips to his native land that abortion amounts to murder.

Pro-abortion groups have argued that the law has created an abortion underground and forced many women to seek abortions abroad or use methods dangerous to health or life. Research has disproven their contentions.

A vote on abortion could be a cliff-hanger in parliament, with the leftist SLD-UP coalition 10 or so seats short of an outright majority and other parties generally opposing abortion on demand.

Pro-Life Infonet
27. september 2001