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Dr. Chazan’s Fight for His Job—And the Rights of the Unborn

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John Burger - published on 08/02/14 - updated on 06/08/17

“Today’s decision is the start of an attack on the conscience of doctors and people in management positions in the health service, it is a violation of their conscience,” Chazan said in an interview with, a conservative news portal. “Abiding by the laws of nature, and first and foremost by the law that prohibits killing a person, will probably become a reason for eliminating these people from management positions.”

Chazan is a prominent obstetrician in Poland. Since 1994, 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 is the chairman of the Council of MaterCare International, an organization of Catholic health professionals dedicated to the care of mothers and babies, and director of MaterCare Poland.

He has signed a “Declaration of Faith”, along with some 3,000 other physicians, which calls for the recognition of a Catholic doctor’s rights to perform their duties in line with their religious convictions. The sole basis for the dignity and freedom of a Catholic physician is a conscience enlightened by the Holy Spirit,” said the declaration, which was spearheaded by an old friend of Pope St. John Paul II, Wanda Poltawska.

But one need not bring religion into the equation at all. “It is not strictly a case of religion (faith) only, since we in Poland are aware that a right to life belongs to each human being as human being from the beginning (conception), since from the beginning we are human beings, persons and not objects, what can be scientifically proved,” said Piotr Jaroszynski, professor of philosophy at the Catholic University of Lublin, in an email interview. “From the side of Christianity as a religion we get divine confirmation as Christians, but a right to live belongs to all persons and not only to members of the Catholic Church. In Polish legal system there are some exceptions which allow to make abortion, but Catholic doctors are legally not obliged to do it. Dr. Chazan as a Catholic did not want to do it, but what’s more, he did not want to indicate any doctor who would be able to do it, since it would be a kind of cooperation in evil, morally unsupportable. And the last point was questioned by the state authorities, and it was an opportunity to fire Dr. Chazan, and not his refusal to make abortion.”

Reflecting on Chazan’s case and the atmosphere in early-21st-century Poland, Jaroszynski complained, “The State wants to treat doctors and teachers as public functionaries, absolutely subordinated to the positive law, in practice to the government and its ideology. But there are some who are aware that their work is a mission, subordinated directly to protect human rights as more fundamental than civil rights.”

Added MaterCare International’s Executive Director Dr. Robert Walley, “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.”

John Burger is news editor for Aleteia’s English edition. 

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