POLAND – Legislators in Poland have watered down a bill which would have greatly cut the 500,000 abortions Polish women have every year.
The bill backed by the Roman Catholic Church, would have given the country the most pro-life law in Europe. The amended law allows exceptions in the case of deformity of child, if the woman’s life is in danger, if the pregnancy results from a crime. The bill provides for two year jail terms for doctors providing illegal abortions
Abortion has been legal in Poland since 1956 but pro-life pressure mounted after the Communists were ousted in 1989.
Deputies from the lower house of Poland’s parliament rejected a motion to hold a referendum on the subject. The bill was sent to the Senate January 18 and needs approval by President Lech Walesa.
GERMANY – In the fall of 1992, German doctors were faced with an ethical debate of major proportions. In early October, a young pregnant German girl was involved in a severe car accident. On arrival at the hospital, 18 year old Marion Ploch was declared clinically brain dead.
However, the doctor chose to keep her alive with feeding tubes and life-support systems in an attempt to save the life of her unborn baby, who had miraculously survived the accident. Dr. Johannes Scheele knew that his decision would create some dispute. He was backed in by Ms. Ploch’s parents, who accepted the treatment to save the life of their grandc
hild. “We will do everything we can to see that when our baby is born, it gets all the love it can,” said Marion’s mother, Gabriells Ploch, 34.
Neither Dr. Scheele nor Mrs. Ploch were ready for the storm of controversy which swept the country. The media, the clergy, other doctors and, of course, women’s groups all got involved in the debate. Some accused the doctors of carrying out a mad experiment which should not be allowed to continue. Others said the child would never survive. Feminist groups, to no one’s surprise, said that this case degrades the woman and that the baby should die. Throughout all the argument, not much mention was made of what really at stake – another life.
Sadly, the saga came to an end on November 16 when the baby was delivered dead. The German doctors should be praised for recognizing the life of the baby and, despite public outcry, for doing their best to save it.
FRANCE – The European Court of Human Rights overturned an Irish court ban on pro-viding information to Irish women seeking abortions abroad.
The Court, however, did not rule on Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion, but did say that preventing women from receiving abortion referrals violated the European Con-vention of Human Rights. This ruling is binding on the 26 nations which make up the Council of Europe.
Marie Vernon, a spokesperson for Ireland’s Society for the Protection of the Unborn, said the ruling reflects the European Courts’ “unprecedented” interference in Irish affairs.
SPAIN – A clause adding to the number of grounds for legal abortion is proving to be the most controversial element of a new Penal Code Bill in Spain. The cabinet has already approved the bill which would become law before the ruling Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) reaches the end of its term in October 1993.
Abortion was illegal in Spain until Felipe Gonzalez’s PSOE came to power in 1982. In February 1983 a bill was introduced legalising abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy when the mother’s life was in danger, when the pregnancy resulted from rape, or when serious mental or physical deformities were discovered in the baby. Despite much opposition the bill became law in 1985. The new bill adds further opportunities for abortion namely, if the mother “is proven to be in distress or in anguish.” This of course means nothing less than abortion on demand.
The new clause has brought protests from the clergy and both opposition parties. Cardinal Narcis Jubany, Archbishop of Barcelona, said “No one can remain indifferent to such a grave situation.” Bishop Jose Gea Aznar has suggested in pastoral letters that Catholics should not vote for the PSOE in the next election.
SWITZERLAND – Calling for greater respect for the dignity of children throughout the world and increased assistance for pregnant women, the Swiss bishops have spoken out against the legalization of the abortion pill, RU-486.
“We say ‘yes’ to all those who, with us, want to respect and protect the dignity of the child – in countries of the former Yugoslavia, in Somalia, in the whole world and also at the point when the life of the child begins,” the bishops’ statement read.
“We say ‘yes’ to all those who want to share and combat the desperation of abandoned or unloved women. But we do not say ‘yes’ to any means or method which prevents the birth of a child.”
“This is why we say ‘no’ to those, above all the doctors here in Switzerland, who are asking for the introduction, authorization and commercialization of the RU-486 pill, which directly causes the death of innocent beings.”
The statement was in response to a petition by Swiss doctors calling for the legalization of the abortion pill.
RUSSIA – The first major pro-life conference in Russia took place last October. The event was sponsored by the International Right to Life Federation and organized by local pro-life groups. Among the speakers were noted French scientist Jerome Lejeune; J.C. Willke, President of IRLF; Olivia Gans of American Victims of Abortion; Denise Cocciolone, President of Birthright U.S.A. and five representatives of the Russian Academy of Science. Russia still has an extremely high abortion rate and this conference was initiated to give impetus to the fledgling Russian pro-life movement. A similar conference was also held in Lithuania which attracted over 1500 delegates, among them 145 doctors and 120 nurses.