Leaders from the Catholic Church in Poland are speaking out against proposed legislation that would relax the nation’s laws on abortion, while restoring over-the-counter access to “emergency contraceptives” like the morning-after pill.
Notes From Poland reports that in late June, members of the Civic Coalition (KO) submitted a bill that would introduce abortion on-demand in Poland up until 12 weeks gestation. Since 2021, the nation has been under a near-total ban on abortion that only includes exceptions for emergency cases, or when the pregnancy is the result of a criminal act. The pending bill would initiate the widest allowance for abortion in Poland’s history.
More recently, in January 2024, the Polish government approved a bill that would allow the over-the-counter purchase of “emergency contraceptives” without prescription. This legislation would reverse a 2017 decision that made Poland one of just two European countries that required a prescription for the morning-after-pill.
Fr. Leszek Gęsiak, SJ, spokesperson of the Polish Episcopal Conference, called the two bills “devastating.” In a post on X (formerly Twitter), the Jesuit priest commented:
“The bills regarding abortion and prescription-free access to the morning-after pill … bring death under the guise of euphemistic-sounding slogans, because human life begins at conception,” said Gęsiak.
He went on to call abortion a “serious offense against human life” and took umbrage at the notion that ending the life of another could be viewed as “progress or modernity.”
He also rejected claims that the morning-after-pill only prevents fertilization, citing the research of bioethicist Fr. Piotr Kieniewicz, who is adamant that “emergency contraceptives” can induce early-stage abortion.
Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, of the Archdiocese of Poznań, also released a statement decrying the potential broadening of Poland’s abortion legality, in which he quoted his countryman, Pope St. John Paul II, in Evangelium Vitae:
“…laws authorizing the direct murder of innocent human beings through abortion…are radically contrary…to the common good and are therefore completely devoid of real legal force…[and] cease to be real, morally binding law,” the archbishop stated, adding that one must never comply with such laws.
Archbishop Gądecki went on to call the legalizing of the killing of unborn human life by Parliament or a social majority a “‘tyrannical’ decision towards the weakest and most defenseless human being.”
While the Church has made its stance clear in the historically majority-Catholic country of Poland, it is likely that both laws will be passed. Opinion polls from Notes From Poland have previously indicated that a large majority of Polish citizens support abortion on demand and prescription-free emergency contraceptives.