The Left has submitted two bills regarding abortion to the Sejm. The first is a project to decriminalize assisting in abortion, and the second – legal abortion on demand up to the 12th week of pregnancy.
The first project, regarding the decriminalization of assisting in abortion, concerns changes to the Penal Code.
The justification states that it concerns “the partial decriminalization of acts related to the termination of pregnancy: the complete exclusion of the crime of terminating a pregnancy up to the 12th week with the woman’s consent and the exclusion of the criminalization of terminating a pregnancy with the woman’s consent in the event of severe, irreversible impairment or incurable disease of the fetus.” The representative of the applicants is MP Anna Maria Żukowska.
According to the current wording of the Penal Code, “whoever terminates her pregnancy with the woman’s consent in violation of the provisions of the Act shall be subject to the penalty of imprisonment for up to 3 years.” The change proposed by the Left provides for a fine or restriction of liberty.
The Left’s project is also intended to completely repeal the next paragraph of this provision, which states that “whoever helps a pregnant woman to terminate her pregnancy in violation of the provisions of the Act or encourages her to do so shall be subject to the same penalty.”
If the conceived child has achieved the ability to live independently outside the pregnant woman’s body, only the person who, with the woman’s consent, terminates her pregnancy would be subject to the penalty of imprisonment from 6 months to 8 years, and not the person who assists her in an abortion or he encourages her to do so.
Assumptions of the project on legal abortion on demand up to the 12th week of pregnancy
The second project concerns the “Act on safe termination of pregnancy”. The requesting MP is Katarzyna Kotula.
The project states that every person has the right to self-determination regarding their fertility, reproduction and parenthood.
It is also guaranteed that every person has the right to information, education, counseling and resources enabling the full realization of the right to conscious parenthood.
The project provides that “a pregnant person has the right to health care in the form of termination of pregnancy until the end of the 12th week of its duration.”
After the 12th week, it is permissible if the pregnancy poses a threat to life or health; the results of prenatal diagnosis or other medical indications indicate that there are developmental or genetic abnormalities in the fetus; there is a reasonable suspicion that the pregnancy is the result of a prohibited act.
According to the project, if the results of imaging tests are sufficient to detect genetic or developmental abnormalities, no further diagnostics are required.
The project states that the service in the form of termination of pregnancy is provided at the earliest possible stage of pregnancy, in accordance with the current state of medical knowledge, and consists in inducing a miscarriage using a pharmacological method or performing a surgical procedure.
Medicinal products for medical abortion are to be dispensed in pharmacies on the basis of a prescription. At the request of a pregnant person, outpatient or hospital care is to be provided while taking medicinal products for pharmacological abortion. In this case, these products should be administered by a doctor, nurse or midwife. The surgical procedure is to be performed by a doctor in an outpatient or hospital setting, we read.
In the event of fetal defects or if the pregnancy is the result of a prohibited act, termination of pregnancy will be permitted up to the 24th week.
If abnormalities found in the fetus prevent it from living outside the pregnant woman’s body, termination of pregnancy is also permitted after the 24th week.
Health care services in the form of termination of pregnancy are to be provided without undue delay, no later than within 72 hours of submitting the application.
In a situation where a doctor refuses to provide the service, invoking the conscience clause, the head of the department or the head of the medical entity is obliged to indicate another doctor who will provide the service in the same entity.
If all doctors in the facility informed about the possibility of refusing to provide the service, the healthcare provider would be obliged to have a contract with a subcontractor ensuring the provision of the service in the same medical entity. The project states that National Health Fund terminates the contract if the healthcare provider does not, despite the possibilities, provide comprehensive health services related to the care of a pregnant person, including termination of pregnancy.
The project also includes a provision amending the Penal Code. It was proposed to completely repeal Art. 152 of the Penal Code, i.e. decriminalization of terminating a pregnancy with the consent of the pregnant person and providing assistance to a pregnant person in terminating the pregnancy. The act would enter into force three months after its announcement.
Liberalization of abortion law in the programs of the Left and KO
The liberalization of abortion law is one of the points of the Left’s program. Also in the election program of the Civic Coalition, the so-called 100 specifics, a postulate was included that abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy should be legal, safe and accessible, and that no hospital operating under the National Health Fund could use the conscience clause to refuse the procedure.
Under current regulations, abortion is legal in two cases – pregnancy resulting from rape and when the woman’s life or health is at risk. The third condition for the legality of abortion – when prenatal tests indicated a high probability of serious and irreversible damage to the fetus – was considered unconstitutional by Constitutional Court in October 2020.
The Constitutional Tribunal’s decision triggered a wave of protests organized by women’s rights groups, supported by, among others, by the Left and many politicians of the Civic Coalition. The Left then proposed a solution, which it called the “rescue bill” – the idea was to adopt regulations that would decriminalize abortion and assistance in it, while not violating the Constitutional Tribunal’s verdict.
In the new term of office of the Sejm, the Left parliamentary club has 26 deputies and nine senators.
Main photo source: Rafał Guz/PAP