For more than half a year, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its effects on social and economic life has been the number one social topic. In the past week, however, the attention of the public was drawn to another issue - the issue concerning the protection of conceived life.
On October 22, the Constitutional Court issued a judgment regarding the so-called eugenic abortion. This ruling caused great emotions within the Polish society - on the one hand, joy over the legal respect for human life from the moment of conception to natural death, while on the other hand, a wave of aggression and protests. Nonetheless, it is worth noting, that contrary to the comments appearing on the Internet, the judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal does not constitute a new law, but merely acknowledges the existing statutory provision as inconsistent with the Constitution. As a result, after the publication of the judgment of the CT, the existing legal regulations in the scope referred to in the judgment must be recognized as invalid and cannot be applied. At the same time, it is also worth observing that Poland, on October 22, became one of over 30 signatory states of the Geneva Declaration, which also refers to the protection of human life and indicates that the catalog of human rights includes the right to life, but there is no right to abortion. However, the signing of this Declaration passed almost unnoticed …
Unfortunately, the aggression of the protesters against the judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal was also directed towards the Catholic Church. Last Saturday and Sunday (October 24-25), numerous acts of vandalism and profanation were committed in many places in Poland. Churches and religious buildings were devastated and destroyed, the celebration of the Holy Mass and other services were disrupted, there were riots in front of churches, and profanity, abusive words and even threats were made against the Church representatives. These actions constitute a violation of the norms of the Criminal Code (the norms contained in Articles 194-196 of the Criminal Code for sure, but the violation of Article 190 of the CC by directing criminal threats against clergy can also be considered), and at the same time violate the constitutional right to freedom of conscience and religion (Article 53 of the Constitution).
For the record, it is worth adding that the behavior of the protesters also violates the regulations implemented for the prevention of the pandemic, aimed at protecting public health. The peculiar oddity of the whole situation is that the protesters are speaking about freedom and posing the problem of abortion under the law of the right to freedom, not under the law of the right to life. They are thereby demanding the freedom to decide on the life of a separate person (admittedly dependent on the mother’s organism, but after all being a separate person with his/her own DNA code, simultaneously endowed with certain rights under the law - see the rights of the newborn), and thereupon violating the freedom of other people. Accordingly, those who speak of freedom and demand it, grossly violate the freedom of others.
dr Natalia Tończyk
Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń
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