Despite Protest, Polish Parliament Eases Restrictions on Abortions
The Polish Parliament voted Friday to liberalize the strict antiabortion law in this predominantly Roman Catholic country to allow women with personal or financial difficulties to terminate their pregnancies.
The Sejm, the powerful lower house of Parliament, voted 208 to 61, with 15 abstentions, to accept the amendments proposed earlier this year by a group of leftist deputies.
The bill is expected to win the necessary approval to become law from the Senate and from President Aleksander Kwasniewski, a former Communist.
Opponents of the bill, led by the Roman Catholic Church, argue that it is a return to abortion on demand, allowed during the Communist era--which ended in 1989--and thereafter until 1993, when Parliament passed the law practically banning the procedure.
More than 100 lawmakers left the chamber in protest before the vote. On Thursday, about 1,500 abortion opponents singing religious songs marched in protest.
The bill would allow abortions up to the 12th week of pregnancy if a woman is in a difficult personal or financial situation. It also would allow abortions in private clinics.
Currently, abortion is only allowed in state-run clinics if the fetus is irreparably damaged, if the pregnancy endangers the health or life of the woman or if it results from crime or incest.
In all other cases, doctors and anyone else who performs or aids an abortion currently face up to two years in prison. The woman is not punished.