The doctor who refused to abort

 Q&A | Bogdan Chazan lost his post heading a Polish government–run maternity hospital after he said his conscience prevented him from killing an unborn child

World Magazine

Daniel James Devine

Polish media outlets have been abuzz this summer with the story of Bogdan Chazan, a prominent Warsaw doctor who refused to provide a woman with an abortion and was subsequently sacked. . .

. . .The Polish doctor’s troubles began in April, when a pregnant woman wrote to his maternity hospital in Warsaw, the Holy Family Hospital, asking for an abortion. She said her personal physician had detected severe developmental defects in the unborn baby. Chazan, a Roman Catholic who has served as director of the hospital for the past 10 years, wrote back, saying he could not provide an abortion due to a “conflict of conscience.” He provided an address to a hospice that could care for the baby after it was born. [Full text]

Lynched, fined, and dismissed: an interview with Poland’s Dr. Bogdan Chazan

LifeSite News

Natalia Duholm

Earlier this month, Dr. Bogdan Chazan, a renowned pro-life doctor in Poland and head of the gynecology and obstetrics department at Holy Family Hospital, was sacked and fined after he refused to participate in abortion. He spoke with LifeSiteNews about his ordeal. (See bottom for background on his case.)

Dr. Chazan, you were lynched by the media, your hospital was fined, and you were dismissed as hospital director.  Does it often happen that doctors in Poland are punished as severely as you were?

Not very often.  I’d even say very rarely.  Generally, with people like me, things are dealt with in a quiet way.  For example, more often, big corporations do not hire gynecologists who do not prescribe birth control. Nobody openly talks about the use of the “conscientious objection.”  Things are hushed up, with no paper trail.

For instance, I know about a case where a well-known pro-life woman was denied a post-doctoral track.  Recently, one of the candidates for director of the gynecology department at the Medical University was asked if he had signed the Declaration of Faith/Conscience (Editor’s note: This was an open letter signed by thousands of doctors in Poland; among other things, it voiced opposition to abortion.).  He admitted he had, and did not get the job.  Perhaps, there were other circumstances, too, but I don’t know. [Full text]

Poland asks: should a doctor serve God, or patients?


Marcin Goettig and Aneta Pomieczynska

(Reuters) – In April this year, a pregnant woman asked Professor Bogdan Chazan, director of Warsaw’s Holy Family Hospital, for an abortion because her own physician had diagnosed her unborn child with grave health problems.

Chazan sent the woman a letter saying he could not agree to an abortion in his hospital because of a “conflict of conscience,” and instead gave the woman the address of a hospice where, he said, the child could get palliative care once born.

The baby was born at a different hospital with, according to a doctor there, severe head and facial deformities and a brain that was not viable, conditions which the doctor said would result in the child’s death within a month or two. . .

. . . On Wednesday, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, the mayor of the Polish capital, said she was firing Chazan from the hospital on the grounds that he did not have the right to refuse the abortion and did not inform the woman about the options for getting a termination. [Full text]

The doctors’ declaration of faith

The Economist


THE scene had a melodramatic touch: two stone tablets with an engraved Declaration of Faith by Polish doctors who recognise “the primacy of God’s laws over human laws” in medicine were carried last month to a sanctuary in Częstochowa, in the south of Poland. The gesture was made out of gratitude for the canonisation of the Polish pope, John Paul II. It was the initiative of a physician and personal friend of the late pope, Wanda Półtawska.

The first 3,000 signatories of the declaration thereby announced that they will not violate the Ten Commandments by playing a part in abortion, birth control, in-vitro fertilisation or euthanasia. Abortion until the 25th week of pregnancy is legal in Poland if the mother’s life is in grave danger, the foetus is known to have severe birth defects or the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.

Poland has 377,000 doctors and nurses so the signatories represent barely 1% of the medical profession. And among them are many students, dozens of dentists, four balneologists and a dance therapist (number 1805 on the leaked list). . . . [Full text]

MaterCare International stands firmly behind Dr. Bogdan Chazan




June 12, 2014- MaterCare International stands firmly behind Dr. Bogdan Chazan, who is being told by the Polish Prime Minister to put the laws of the nation state above his Catholic faith.

Dr. Bogdan Chazan, a distinguished and celebrated obstetrician in Warsaw, has denied a request to abort an unborn child diagnosed with serious brain defects. An openly Catholic obstetrician, Dr. Chazan previously signed a “Declaration of Faith”, along with approximately 3,000 other physicians, which calls for the recognition of a Roman Catholic doctor’s rights to perform their duties in line with their religious convictions. Dr. Chazan argued that an abortion is against his faith and has come under siege from the Polish government and has been the victim of hateful attacks from fringe groups who oppose his rights as a Roman Catholic doctor.

Poland, a predominantly Catholic country, has remained in favour of positive alternatives to abortion for decades. Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in a statement on Tuesday, reducing doctors to servants of the nation state, “Regardless of what his conscience is telling him [the doctor] must carry out the law.”

MaterCare International’s Executive Director Dr. Robert Walley commented, ““The simple fact is that the majority of people who have ever lived, and quite probably a large majority of people today, see abortion as the execution of an innocent life. Demanding that citizens abandon their morality and conduct executions at the command of the government is the hallmark of the most totalitarian and sinister states in human history. We are saddened and outraged that with this measure against Professor Chazan, Poland seems intent on joining their ranks.”

Walley continued, “People of faith become doctors, because they want to help people. They want to offer healing and hope, not death and despair. We look to them to give us their best advice and opinions. If we say doctors cannot have opinions, that patients are allowed to dictate their wants to a physician, then what good is a doctor? Whether or not to do anything is a moral decision, and to point the finger at those with religious backgrounds is prejudice. We should value their morality and not punish them for it. Dr. Bogdan Chazan, like Ghandi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and countless others, equates this ‘procedure’ with murder, being forced by the law to commit murder is something we can all surely reject.”

Through his decades of service, Dr. Chazan, as a physician and professor of gynecology and obstetrics, has gained the respect of colleagues, his fellow staff, and his patients. He is a graduate of the Medical Academy in Warsaw. Previuosly, he worked as a professor at the National Research Institute of Mother and Child and was the national consultant in obstetrics and gynecology. Since 2004 he has served as a director of the Holy Family Hospital in Warsaw.

Since 1994, Dr. Bogdan Chazan he has been a member of the Government Population Commission and a member of the Committee of the Demography of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He continues to work as a strong proponent of natural family planning and Naprotechnology in Poland. He was nominated twice, in 2010 and 2012 for the award “Totus” for “courageous and consistent activities for the benefit of the civilization of life in the spirit of St. John Paul II’s teaching”. He is the chairman of the Council of MaterCare International and director of MaterCare Poland.

-Dr. Robert Walley, Executive Director of MaterCare International

MaterCare International is an organization of Catholic health professionals dedicated to the care of mothers and babies, both born and unborn, through new initiatives of service, training, research and education.

Email: Ph: 1-888-579-6472

Polish Prime Minister says doctors must do abortions despite conscience objection

Lifesite News

Thaddeus Balinski

WARSAW, Poland – Poland’s prime minister has declared that doctors’ opposition to abortion does not give them the right to refuse to kill a child in the womb, even under Poland’s strict abortion rules.

“Regardless of what his conscience is telling him, [a doctor] must carry out the law,” Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in a June 10 statement, according to Polskie Radio.

“Every patient must be sure that … the doctor will perform all procedures in accordance with the law and in accordance with his duties,” Tusk said.

Poland’s laws only permit abortion if a woman’s life or health is jeopardized by the continuation of a pregnancy, if the pregnancy is a result of a criminal act such as rape, or if the unborn child is seriously malformed. The abortion must be carried out in the first 25 weeks of the pregnancy.

According to Polish law on conscience rights, doctors may still decline such abortions, but they are obliged to refer patients elsewhere.

Tusk’s statement came following the decision by obstetrician Bogdan Chazan, director of Holy Family Children’s Hospital in Warsaw, to refuse to grant an abortion to a woman who alleged that the child she was carrying had severe brain damage. . . [Full text]

Polish physicians and medical students declaration of faith and freedom of conscience

On 5 March, 2014, a Declaration of Faith for Catholic doctors and medical students was published in a letter by Dr. Wanda Półtawska, a friend of Pope John Paul II.  It was subsequently signed by over 3,000 people

The Declaration was carved onto two stone tablets and deposited at Jasna Gora on 25 May, 2014, during a pilgrimmage of health care workers to honour the canonization of John Paul II.  It closes with an affirmation that Catholics, including physicians, “have a right to perform their professional activities in accordance with their conscience.”  [Deklaracja Wiary website]

Deklaracja Wiary

Declaration of Faith*

Lekarzy katolickich i studentów medycyny w przedmiocie płciowości i płodności ludzkiej
Of Catholic doctors and students of medicine, on the sexuality and fertility of human beings
Nam – lekarzom – powierzono strzec życie ludzkie od jego początku…  We, doctors, entrusted to protect human life from its conception until its natural end;
1. WIERZĘ w jednego Boga, Pana Wszechświata, który stworzył mężczyznę i niewiastę na obraz swój. 1. BELIEVE in one God, the Lord of the Universe, who created man and woman in his own image.
2. UZNAJĘ, iż ciało ludzkie i życie, będąc darem Boga, jest święte i nietykalne:
– ciało podlega prawom natury, ale naturę stworzył Stwórca, – moment poczęcia człowieka i zejścia z tego świata zależy wyłącznie od decyzji Boga.Jeżeli decyzję taką podejmuje człowiek, to gwałci nie tylko podstawowe przykazania
Dekalogu, popełniając czyny takie jak aborcja, antykoncepcja, sztuczne zapłodnienie, eutanazja, ale poprzez zapłodnienie in vitro odrzuca samego Stwórcę.
2. PROCLAIM that the human body and life, being gifts from God, are sacred and inviolable and that,a. The body is subject to the laws of nature but is formed by The Creator;b. The moments of human conception and dying offer us, by God’s grace, the opportunity to participate in God’s love, creation and passion. If a person acts by their own will to negatively alter conception and bring about death, then he or she not only violates the basic commandments of the Decalogue, committing acts such as abortion, euthanasia, contraception, artificial insemination, and/or in vitro fertilisation, but rejects The Creator as well.
3. PRZYJMUJĘ prawdę, iż płeć człowieka dana przez Boga jest zdeterminowana biologicznie i jest sposobem istnienia osoby ludzkiej. Jest nobilitacją, przywilejem, bo człowiek został wyposażony w narządy, dzięki którym ludzie przez rodzicielstwo stają się współpracownikami Boga Samego w dziele stworzenia – powołanie do rodzicielstwa jest planem Bożym i tylko wybrani przez Boga i związani z Nim świętym sakramentem małżeństwa mają prawo używać tych organów, które stanowią sacrum w ciele ludzkim. 3. ACCEPT the truth that human sexuality is a gift of God and provides the method by which human beings are ennobled with the privilege to become “co-creators with God in the work of creation” through parenthood. The call to parenthood is God’s plan, and only those bound with Him by the holy sacrament of marriage have the ability to rightly use these gifts, which are sacred, in the human body.
4. STWIERDZAM, że podstawą godności i wolności lekarza katolika jest wyłącznie jego sumienie oświecone Duchem świętym i nauką Kościoła i ma on prawo działania zgodnie ze swoim sumieniem i etyką lekarską, która uwzględnia prawo sprzeciwu wobec działań niezgodnych z sumieniem. 4. ACKNOWLEDGE that the foundation for the dignity and freedom of the Catholic doctor is exclusively his or her conscience, enlightened by the Holy Spirit and informed by the teaching of the Church, and that he or she has the right to act according to said conscience and in keeping with medical ethics that have established the doctor’s right to oppose all acts that are against one’s conscience.
5. UZNAJĘ pierwszeństwo prawa Bożego nad prawem ludzkim – aktualną potrzebę przeciwstawiania się narzuconym antyhumanitarnym ideologiom współczesnej cywilizacji, – potrzebę stałego pogłębiania nie tylko wiedzy zawodowej, ale także wiedzy o antropologii chrześcijańskiej i teologii ciała. 5. RECOGNISE the priority of God’s law over the law of nations and,a. The current need for providing alternatives to the anti-human ideologies and dictates imposed by some contemporary societies.b. The need to constantly deepen not only professional knowledge but also the knowledge of Christian anthropology and theology of the body.
6. UWAŻAM, że – nie narzucając nikomu swoich poglądów, przekonań – lekarze katoliccy mają prawo oczekiwać i wymagać szacunku dla swoich poglądów i wolności w wykonywaniu czynności zawodowych zgodnie ze swoim sumieniem. 6. BELIEVE that, while not imposing their beliefs and opinions, Catholics, including doctors and students, have a right to perform their professional activities in accordance with their conscience.
Wysokim uznaniem darzymy tych lekarzy i członków służby zdrowia, którzy w pełnieniu swojego zawodu ponad wszelką ludzką korzyść przenoszą to, czego wymaga od nich szczególny wzgląd na chrześcijańskie powołanie. Niech niezachwianie trwają w zamiarze popierania zawsze tych rozwiązań, które zgadzają się z wiarą i prawym rozumem oraz niech starają się dla tych rozwiązań zjednać uznanie i szacunek ze strony własnego środowiska. Niech ponadto uważają za swój zawodowy obowiązek zdobywanie w tej trudnej dziedzinie niezbędnej wiedzy, aby małżonkom zasięgającym opinii, mogli służyć należytymi radami i wskazywać właściwą drogę, czego słusznie i sprawiedliwie się od nich wymaga. Likewise we hold in the highest esteem those doctors and members of the nursing profession who, in the exercise of their calling, endeavor to fulfill the demands of their Christian vocation before any merely human interest. Let them therefore continue constant in their resolution always to support those lines of action which accord with faith and with right reason. And let them strive to win agreement and support for these policies among their professional colleagues. Moreover, they should regard it as an essential part of their skill to make themselves fully proficient in this difficult field of medical knowledge. For then, when married couples ask for their advice, they may be in a position to give them right counsel and to point them in the proper direction. Married couples have a right to expect this much from them.
Paweł VI, Humanae vitae, 27. Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Humanae Vitae, 27
 *Translation by Matercare International