Saturday, May 25, 2024
Poland

Polish Sejm voting on abortion this week: Look at what has happened to France before going down the same path!

Maternity chair in the surgical obstetric ward. Chair for inspection of pregnant women. Inspection room in the hospital (iStock).

· The anti-life projects proposed by Poland’s ruling coalition are only the beginning of a political process leading to the normalization of the mass killing of unborn children.

· The French law of 1974, which was only supposed to open the floodgates to prenatal killing for women in distress, in fact established a new legal foundation through which almost a quarter of a million children lose their lives in France every year.

· There have been ongoing attempts in France to introduce abortion on demand up to the very birth of the child.

· This relaxation of the legal protection of life has had the effect of demoralizing both the political elite and society in France.

· Only the legal protection of the lives of the unborn guarantees that the elementary human rights of children in the prenatal phase of life will be safeguarded.

· More on this below – in this next article in the series ‘Abortion, the Road to National Horror’.

 

 

Tomasz Rowiński, writing for Ordo Iuris

 

The mirage of compromise

One of the greatest illusions that a segment of Polish public opinion is succumbing to nowadays is the conviction that the adoption by Parliament of any of the ruling coalition’s statutory proposals, de facto destroying the legal protection of life in our country, will establish a new, permanent, and compromise foundation regarding this topic in Poland.

This illusion consists not only of a simple mistake, i.e. taking as a compromise the radical proposals for relaxing the law leading to the morally unjustifiable killing of unborn children. If we were to look for any kind of justifiable moral compromise – although the word is not precise – one could consider as a compromise a situation in which we agree to the death of the child for the sake of saving the life of the mother — although only according to the principle of double effect.

 

The French example

Indeed, the illusion in question here is not only of a moral nature, but also a political one. The experience of other countries shows us clearly that a step towards expanding the availability of the legal murder of people in the prenatal phase of life in no way stabilises the legal system’s moral condition, nor does it stop the violent appetites of those politicians for whom abortion is an important part of their agenda, or at least a convenient instrument for action. Let us take France as a glaring example: despite its strong libertine traditions that largely drew on the French Revolution, and which subsequently shaped French political culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, abortion was not condoned until the 1970s. Life-protecting legislation came into being in 1920 as a reaction to the hecatomb of the First World War. Until a century ago, republican France was still capable of such a moral effort. After yet another war, however, and just after the end of the era of President Charles de Gaulle, things took a different direction.

Fifty years after the ‘Veil Act’ was voted on in 1974, the French Congress of Deputies and Senators, via a crushing number of votes (780 parliamentarians voted ‘for’ and only 72 ‘against’) at the beginning of March 2024, adopted an amendment to the 34th article of the Constitution with the words, ‘The law shall define the conditions for the exercise of a woman’s freedom to terminate her pregnancy voluntarily’ – an amendment that made prenatal homicide an inviolable and fundamental right in the country.

The lesson that the example of France gives us is that expanding the availability of legal prenatal killing does not stabilize the protection of life, but simply stabilizes and normalizes killing alone while also demoralizing the state, politicians, and society. The March vote in Paris ended with scenes of sublime joy, elation, and triumph which, for anyone who retains an elementary moral sense, must have been at least inappropriate, if not appalling.

One might consider that in Poland, though, the tension between the defenders of life and the defenders of killing is high enough to keep the latter at bay. In many ways, however, today’s debate in Poland resembles the one in the French parliament in 1974. The MP Jean Foyer, a Gaullist and former justice minister, spoke there five times and warned of ‘the bodies of babies that will be piled up in slaughterhouses’. Another parliamentarian from the same camp, Hector Rolland, spoke of abortion as genocide. Still another played to the assembled parliament a recording of the sound of the heartbeat of an eight-week-old baby in the fetal stage of life. From the hall, someone even shouted, ‘Do you want to send babies to the furnaces?’, thus making an allusion to the personal experience of Minister Simone Veil, the direct promoter of the law against life, who survived a concentration camp during the Second World War.

The ‘Veil Act,’ which was eventually passed, would probably have been considered ‘moderate’ by many modern Poles. It allowed the ‘voluntary’ killing of a child up to the 10th week of pregnancy (i.e. the 12th week of a woman’s amenorrhea). Additionally, according to its provisions abortion could be performed outside this period in a situation endangering the woman’s life or health until the day of delivery. Mandatory elements of the abortion-on-demand procedure included two medical consultations, as well as reflection time for the woman seeking an abortion. The decision also had to be signed. The procedure could be said to have been informative and awareness-raising, even discouraging – or at least that is how the public might have perceived it. Abortion ‘for therapeutic reasons’, which also included what in Poland is called eugenic abortion, merely required confirmation by two doctors. Both legal situations, which are described separately in the law, granted doctors the right to a conscience clause through which they could refuse to participate in both the abortion procedure and the killing itself. In March 2022, i.e. already under the presidency of Emmanuel Macron, the period of availability of abortion on request was extended up to the 14th week of pregnancy (i.e. the 16th week of a woman’s amenorrhea).

Today, the Veil Act is not only criticised in France for its blatant implications: ‘This is the great fraud of the Veil Act. It was intended only to create an exception, a derogation from the general principle of the protection of human life. According to the Veil Act’s intention, 10 per cent of the funds were to go towards performing abortions and 90 per cent towards various types of incentives to welcome and give birth to a child. In practice, however, the implementing legislation on aid to women in distress because of pregnancy was never enacted, and as a result, we have 100 per cent abortions and 0 per cent attempts at dissuasion. The interviews I took part in were not at all aimed at persuading women not to have abortions. They became a mere formality until they were finally abolished. And it is no longer allowed to say in France that abortion is the killing of a human being, even though everyone knows that it is,’ stated Sabine Faivre, author of the book La vérité sur l’avortement aujourd’hui (The Truth about Abortion Today), a few years ago.

Abortion on demand as a result of concessions

In 2021, Emmanuel Macron’s political camp also made an unsuccessful attempt to push through abortion on demand until the end of pregnancy. Had this bill been passed, it would have put France on a par with communist countries such as China, Vietnam, and North Korea in terms of the right to kill the unborn, as well as Canada under Justin Trudeau and some parts of the United States where the deciding vote is held by politicians from the radically anti-life Democratic Party. For that purpose, the so-called Bioethics Bill 2021 was pushed through to the Senate at one stage with a provision on psychosocial difficulties in the medical rationale for qualifying for abortion until the end of pregnancy. This subjective criterion – as shown by the experience of other countries – amounts to allowing abortion on demand.

Nevertheless, a smaller degree of success has been achieved: the seven-day grace period – a time for reflection – prior to the so-called medical termination of pregnancy was removed from the law. It is such small successes of which France’s national horror of abortion consists. This country had the highest number of prenatal babies murdered of any country in the European Union in 2022. It was also more than at any time in the last three decades. 234,253 legal prenatal killings took place during that year. Meanwhile, the number of births is declining and reached 678,000 in 2023. From a Polish perspective, this may seem like a lot, but considering the size of France, its population, as well as the ethnic structure of the children who are being born, the situation looks serious.

Olivier Bault wrote in the pages of Poland’s weekly magazine Do Rzeczy in the autumn of 2016 about how the abortion noose is being tightened in a situation where the statutory gateway has already been repealed, in an article entitled ‘French Abortion Totalitarianism’: ‘The French law, amended in 2014 at the request of Laurence Rossignol with the support of Najat Vallaud Belkacem (who was then Minister of Women’s Rights), states that it is punishable by two years’ imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 Euros for anyone to attempt to interfere with the termination of a pregnancy or with procedures prior to the termination of a pregnancy by in any way obstructing access to or the operations of abortion centres, or by exerting moral or psychological pressure on medical and other professionals working in these centres, or on women who have come to these centres to obtain information on the possibility of terminating their pregnancy. The problem is that the law is so vague that it can be seen as an offence merely to provide information in hospitals or counselling centres about other forms of assistance that are available.’ An interesting and detailed analysis of this law’s approval process by the competent authorities of the French legislature and constitutional judiciary was presented by Przemysław Pietrzak and Kamil Smulski in their article, ‘Legal Guarantees of Freedom of Expression and the Permissibility of Information Regarding the Consequences of Abortion – a Comparative Legal Perspective’. It was published in the volume Protection of Human Life at the Prenatal Stage of Development: Social, Medical, and Legal Aspects, which was published by the Scientific Publishing House of the Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture (pp. 611-614).

In another article which was published by Remix News, Olivier Bault described his country’s situation as follows: ‘The pro-life NGOs that used to inform women in France about how they could find help to bring their pregnancy to term and raise their children have long deserted the country’s abortion clinics because of a law that makes it a crime to exert any kind of pressure on a woman not to abort — while it is no longer a crime in France to exert pressure on a woman to make her abort.’ Bault, in the above-quoted text from Do Rzeczy, also wrote that the minister of health in the Socialist government, Marisol Touraine, had sent out proportional guidelines to regional health agencies to enforce ‘equal access to abortion.’ The ratio set by the ministry was one abortion for every four live births.

Attack on the conscience clause

Following the recent vote on the abortion amendment to the constitution, there have already been proposals to ‘go further’ and abolish the conscience clause that is currently still in force in France. Manuel Bompard, a representative of the far-left group France Unbowed (LFI), stated on the programme Telematin that was broadcast by the state-owned network France 2 at the beginning of March 2024 that the right to kill children is not effective enough because of the conscience clause, and that one in four women wishing to have an abortion must leave their department in order to do so. Departments in France are administrative units much smaller than Polish voivodeships. Their size varies between 4,000 and 8,000 square kilometres. This means that small departments are only a third larger than the largest Polish counties. Although Emmanuel Macron’s Minister of Justice, Éric Dupond-Moretti, assured the public that ‘a doctor who does not want to [perform an abortion] will of course have the right and freedom not to do so’ because ‘we will not violate consciences’, which is ‘guaranteed by the constitution’, the Left is already moving the Overton window towards even greater barbarism.

Finally, attention should be drawn to the previously-mentioned process of demoralising France’s political elite. Today, even on the Right it is difficult to find a politician who would be unequivocally in favour of restoring the legal situation that existed prior to 1974 in this regard. Often referred to as the ‘far Right’ in the Polish media, Marine Le Pen’s party also supported – ‘for patriotic reasons’ – the inclusion of abortion in the constitution, despite the fact that she had previously called this idea a ‘serious attack on human rights’. The Polish Left likes to say that Polish society is more liberal than the political class, and that this needs to change. One reason for this is quite simple: it is much easier to answer one of dozens of questions, even difficult ones, to a pollster than to make political decisions that ultimately affect who will live and who will die. In France, at least in terms of being aware of the need for proper information and of help for women who are plagued by the temptation of abortion, society is far more reasonable and simply humane than the state elite. ‘Alliance Vita [published] an opinion poll commissioned from the IFOP research institute. This poll shows that 72 per cent of the French people believe, despite all the media and school propaganda encouraging the trivialisation of abortion, that women should be helped more in regards to avoiding abortion in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, and 84 per cent would like the offer of available forms of assistance to be given along with the booklet issued to women at the very beginning of a pregnancy. Contrary to government propaganda, 89 per cent of French people are of the opinion that abortion leaves traces in a woman’s psyche to the extent that it makes her life difficult,’ Olivier Bault wrote in the text published in Do Rzeczy that was quoted above.

France’s situation is what we can expect in Poland if, as a society, we do not oppose the radicalism of the centre-left coalition that is currently in power in our country – except that the process of collapse will happen much faster in our country than in France due to differing civilisational circumstances. Europe has already plunged into the process of normalising the mass killing of children in the prenatal phase of life and considers it a great civilisational achievement, even though it is a complete moral failure. Pressure will be exerted on Poland in this regard as before, and uninterruptedly – the difference being that it may soon turn out that none of those in power will want to resist this pressure any longer. Resistance must therefore come from the public right now.

 

 

Other articles by the same author as part of the series ‘Abortion – the Road to National Horror’:

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Tomasz Rowiński is a senior research fellow of the project ‘Ordo Iuris: Civilization’ by the Ordo Iuris Institute, as well as an editor at Christianitas and the portal Afirmacja.info. He is also a historian of ideas, a columnist, and an author of books, among them: Bękarty Dantego. Szkice o zanikaniu i odradzaniu się widzialnego chrześcijaństwa, Królestwo nie z tego świata. O zasadach Polski katolickiej na podstawie wydarzeń nowszych i dawniejszych, Turbopapiestwo. O dynamice pewnego kryzysu, and Anachroniczna nowoczesność. Eseje o cywilizacji przemocy. He lives in Książenice, near Grodzisk Mazowiecki, in Poland.