WARSAW, Poland — The most recent case in Poland’s abortion wars will test the country’s conscience.
The case centers around Professor Bogdan Chazan, one of Poland’s top doctors and director of the Holy Family Hospital in Warsaw (Szpital im. Świętej Rodziny). Chazan came under fire last month when he refused to perform an abortion on a deformed baby who had been conceived in vitro in a fertility clinic. Instead of an abortion, Chazan offered medical advice for the mother, hospital care before, during, and after the pregnancy, and perinatal hospice care for the child.
Although Polish law permits abortion of sick babies until viability, it does not create the right to an abortion. It merely decriminalizes abortion for the doctor and the mother. This particular pregnancy did not pose a danger to the woman’s health. Also, according to Polish law, any physician can invoke the country’s conscience clause, which ensures that no doctor or medical professional will ever be required to perform, or participate in, an abortion. Nonetheless, Chazan’s hospital was fined 70,000 zloty (approximately $23,000) for his refusal. [Full text]