Catholic Church leaders in Poland have voiced their support for a proposed act of legislation that would tighten the country’s regulations on abortion.
According to Reuters, Poland’s current abortion laws permit the termination of a pregnancy if the mother's life is at risk, if the baby would be severely deformed and in cases of rape or incest.
If passed, the new law, drafted by the conservative Law and Justice Party, would allow the termination of a pregnancy only under the gravest circumstances, when mothers experience a medical emergency.
The Roman Catholic Church in Poland endorsed the proposed legislation in an open letter. The letter, read in churches across the country Sunday, states that the law would protect human life "from conception to natural death."
An excerpt of the letter as reported by Vatican Radio reads:
“When it comes to the life of the unborn, we can't remain at the current compromise set out in the law," which was adopted in 1993. The bishops added: "We call on people of goodwill, believers and nonbelievers, to act so as to fully protect the life of the unborn from a legal point of view.”
The bishops also invoked one of the Ten Commandments in the Bible, which declares, "Thou shalt not kill."
The religious leaders claimed that in light of this command, “the position of Catholics in this regard is clear and unchanging.”
Poland was the home of Pope John Paul II, one of the Church's most pro-life leaders in history. John Paul II, who served as pope during the sexual revolution of the 1970s, penned the encyclical, "Evangelium Vitae," and wrote prolifically on the subjects of marriage and family life.
Vatican Radio reported that a new pro-life group called "Stop Abortion" is well on its way to acquiring the 100,000 signatures needed to hold a vote for the new law.
Protesters raise hangers, symbolizing illegal abortion, as they shout slogans demonstrating against a possible tightening of the country’s abortion law, already one of the most restrictive in Europe, in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, April 3, 2016. Rallies in Warsaw and other cities are being held under the slogan “No to the Torture of Women” and come as the influential Roman Catholic church launches a campaign for a total ban on abortion, something supported by Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)
But such a radical shift in legislation doesn’t come without opposition. Reuters reported that thousands of pro-choice protesters held a rally outside parliament in Warsaw Sunday, chanting phrases like, "keep your hands off the uterus" and "my body, my business.”
The liberal Together Party, which has slammed the proposed conservative law, was reportedly responsible for organizing Sunday’s protest.
Poland, a nation of 38 million people, limits abortions to around 700 to 1,800 per year. Vatican Radio reported, however, that between 100,000 and 150,000 women annually either undergo illegal abortions in Poland or travel to clinics abroad.