Poland looks set to commit a near total ban on abortion to law, after its Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of tougher legislation which has been supported by the Church, reports The Tablet.
Last Friday, 267 members of the Polish Parliament's lower house voted in favour of a bill that would allow terminations only if the mother’s life was at risk, and increase the maximum jail term for abortionists from two years to five.
The anti-abortion bill, drawn up by pro-life citizen groups and brought before Parliament by the governing Law and Justice Party, would also make women who had an abortion liable to prison terms, though judges would have the discretion to waive individual sentences.
The proposed bill has received the backing of the Church, although bishops have opposed the jailing of women.
The bill will now be sent to a committee phase for a further hearing.
At the same time, MPs voted against a counter-measure bill calling for freer access to abortion. Lawmakers also sent to committee a Law and Justice Party-proposed bill limiting in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
The measure would make it illegal to freeze embryos, which its proponents say are human beings from the moment of fertilisation. It would also only allow women to fertilise one egg at a time.
The proposed legislation, first announced in April, has triggered protests with thousands of women gathering outside the Parliament in a protest march. During the reading of the Bishops’ statement of April 3, many women walked out of Mass. Pro-choice MPs from a number of opposition parties claimed the bill was a set-back for women’s rights in Poland.