Evolution of the Abortion Law and its Practice in Poland Against the Background of the Current Legal Framework in New Zealand

Author: Eska-Mikołajewska, J
Published in National Security Journal, 05 April 2021

Another proposal aimed at limiting the possibility of performing abortions in Poland dates back to 1981 when the board of the Catholic Intelligentsia Club formulated the postulate of “practical action to protect and the right to life” as one of their principles.20 The club’s roots went back to the “Solidarity” – the first independent trade union in Poland, as well as a civic movement inspired Christian values. “Solidarity” was established during a wave of strikes in the summer of 1980, however, it was officially registered in September 1980.21 In its Program Resolution in 1981 it described itself as a “moral movement rebirth of the nation”. The benchmark for the movement were “values of Christian ethics” and the absolute authority was the person of John Paul II.22

The Szczecin Catholic Club requested that the existing provisions of the 1956 Act be replaced with a new parenthood protection Act. The Club activists associated with the then opposition23 had submitted a letter to the Sejm of the People’s Republic of Poland on April 27, 1987. Soon after, on February 28, 1989, a draft law on the legal protection of a conceived child was submitted to the the Parliamentary Committee for Social Policy, Health and Physical Culture by Archbishop Bronisław Dąbrowski, then secretary of the Bishops’ Conference and the team of experts from the Polish Episcopal Commission for Family Affairs.24 There is no doubt that this bill, read for the first time in the Sejm on May 10, 1989, and therefore during the Round-table talks, was a fully church – sponsored project.

The law restricting abortion after the fall of communism in 1989, became one of the priorities of the Catholic Church. The adoption of the new legal Act appeared quite realistic, as the Church was deeply embedded in politics and managed to establish itself as a defender of Polish democracy. At the turn of the 1970s and 1980s, all the outposts of the Open Church, in the form of related socio-cultural magazines such as Tygodnik Powszechny, Więź and Znak, participated in the campaign to repeal the 1956 Act. After 1989, the Catholic Church, which had provided key support to the pro-democracy movement during the transition period, firmly insisted that the newly appointed government should allow for the Church’s position on social issues.

In relation to the ideological diversity of the environments constituting the so-called opposition, it can be presumed that the actual attitude of representatives of various opposition circles to the absolute ban on abortion could be different.