Ministers vote against further restrictions to abortion law: From left to right: Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Waldemar Pawlak, Minister of Finance Jacek Rostowski. In the second row, from left: Minister of Culture Bogdan Zdrojewski, Minister of Science Barbara Kudrycka and Health Minister Bartosz Arlukowicz: photo - PAP/Radek Pietruszka
Sitting as part of the parliamentary committee on social and family policy, a motion to ban the termination of a foetus if it was found to have a terminal illness or disability - what its opponents label “eugenic abortion” - was defeated by 245 votes to 184 against with 10 abstentions.
Though the senior coalition partner, Civic Platform, was officially against the tightening of the abortion law, 14 members of the chrsitian-democrats voted against the party line and with conservative MPs from the largest opposition party, Law and Justice (PiS) and a the smaller Solidarity Poland.
The junior coalition partner, Polish Peasants Party (PSL) did not impose a party whip on its MPs and let them vote with their conscience.
Two weeks ago, President Bronislaw Komorowski, a political ally of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, said he was shocked that as many as 40 MPs from Civic Platform voted to give the anti-abortion motion further work in parliament.
The current, strict abortion laws in Poland ban terminations in all cases except where there is proof that carrying a pregnancy for its full term could harm the health of the mother or if the foetus is proved to have been damaged.
The current laws, known as a “historic compromise” in Poland when it was voted through in parliament in the 1990s after abortion was free on demand through the communist-era.
President Komorowski said of the vote two weeks ago, where so many Civic Platform MPs broke ranks to vote with the conservative opposition: “For me, this is a disturbing signal. Because I have always believed that one cannot violate a fragile but difficult compromise that nevertheless serves Poland.”
Asked last night why 14 MPs from the ruling Civic Platform voted against the party line last night, deputy head of the parliamentary party, Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska said: “MPs vote as they see it. The Prime Minister did not suffer a defeat and, most importantly, this evil will not be processed into law, and that the 'compromise' has been preserved”.
Civic Platform is also not unanimous on its stance on state-funding IVF treatment.
Justice Minister Jaroslaw Govin said last week that he was “surprised” that PM Donald Tusk had announced a policy whereby couples could have access to IVF treatment on the national health fund if they had been trying for a baby for over a year.
Gowin said he had not been consulted by the prime minister before announcing that the move on IVF would be dine under existing health regulations and not by a change of law in parliament.
“The prime minister took me by surprise, as he had not informed me that he was preparing such a programme with the Minister of Health,” Jaroslaw Gowin told television news channel TVN24.
Childless couples currently only have access to IVF treatment in Poland at private clinics, which discriminates against the poor, says proponents of PM Tusk's scheme.
Poland's church is against IVF and was for the more restrictive law on abortion. (pg)