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Polish prime minister favours total ban on abortion

As vote on issue looms in Warsaw parliament, Beata Szydło of Law & Justice party says she supports making terminations illegal.

The Polish prime minister, Beata Szydło, said she backs moves towards a total ban on abortion, in a sign the nationalist government may be set to turn its attention to the nuclear family.

A campaign against abortion is due to be launched this Sunday in the country’s Roman Catholic churches. Priests have been asked to read out a letter from the bishops’ conference calling for Poland’s existing, limited abortion rights to be scrapped.

After mass on church steps, anti-abortion group Fundacja Pro will gather petition signatures for a citizen’s parliamentary bill calling for a total ban.
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Asked on Polish public radio on Thursday if she supported the campaign to bring the issue to parliament, Szydło said: “Every MP will vote in line with his own conscience. At the moment I can not talk about the bill, because this bill does not yet exist. As for my opinion, yes, I support this initiative.”

Poland already strictly limits access to abortion. A 1993 law grants it up to the 25th week from conception, but only on the condition that the woman’s life is in danger, the pregnancy is the result of criminally proven rape or incest, or the foetus is “seriously malformed”.

The bishops’ letter, signed on Wednesday, calls the current law a compromise, adding: “The life of every person is protected by the fifth of the Ten Commandments: thou shalt not kill. Therefore the position of Catholics in this regard is clear and unchanging.’’

Monika Płatek, a prominent member of Poland’s Women’s Congress, said the prime minister’s view illustrated the influence of the church on the ruling Law & Justice party.

“The bishops do not care if a woman dies. Szydło is a puppet. The abortion ban was the condition of the church’s support for Law & Justice. The move is typical of an arbitrary state that uses support for moral ideas to take total control.

“We saw it under Hitler and Ceaușescu and now we are seeing it under Law & Justice,’’ said Płatek, a professor of law at the University of Warsaw.

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