The total-ban-on-abortions project was rejected. First in one of the parliamentary commissions and now by the Sejm. Ironically it all happened with the votes coming from the ruling party – Law & Justice (PiS, in Polish: Prawo i Sprawiedliwość).
The Catholic fundamentalists from Ordo Iuris (OI) were left totally disappointed. Yesterday in an atmosphere of unprecedented rush and blatant violation of many by-laws regulating the work of the Polish Parliament the bill was rejected and turned back to the MPs for a plenary discussion.
It all started late in the afternoon and finished late in the night and resembled a circus rather than any kind phenomenon of a political nature. The spectacle accompanying the final rejection of the Ordo Iuris was a cheap copy of the famous “night shift” from before 22 years, only à rebours – this time the government’s agents refuted a law enthusiastically supported by its own majority.
Let us sum it up.
The scandal began shortly after the start of the meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The session was called to start at 5 pm. Opposition MPs immediately made a request for the meeting to be postponed. According to the rules of the Sejm (lower chamber of the Polish parliament) the Committee members should have been informed about its session at least three days in advance. Meanwhile the head of that committee – Stanislaw Piotrowicz (high-ranking apparatchik before 1989, now a right wing extremist and important Law & Justice cadre) – communicated it two hours before the very start of the meeting. The Legislative Office of the Sejm internvend immediately and explained that all that is happening is a very serious breach of the law.
Piotrowicz did not care. Soon after the official opening the session was transformed into a vulgar quarrel. During this “exchange of ideas” it turned out it was necessary to change the room, because the interest in the work of the Commission was so big that people gradually gathering there simply could not fit inside. BTW, a little earlier the Parliament canceled the passes of some representatives of civic organizations who wanted to take part in the debate. Accidentally this happened only to the people who oppose the OI’s project.
In the new hall things got even worse. The chaos was full. Amidst shouts and complete disorder Piotrowicz insisted, however, to vote as soon as possible. Witold Czarnecki from PiS officially submitted the request the Commission to reject the project. Moments before that the Deputy Speaker of the Sejm (also from PiS) – Ryszard Terlcki spoke to journalists and stressed that his party “is not in favor of punishing women” and that we are dealing with a civic project, not a governmental one. As a result, the commission rejected the barbaric bill almost unanimously.
Even if we assume that the Commission meeting held against the rules was not all in all contra leges, the draft should be scheduled for discussion on Thursday, when the so called second reading at the plenary session in the Parliament was going to take place. Meanwhile, however, the Council of Seniors of the Sejm met and decided that the discussion will take place on the same day starting from 9 pm. “Gazeta Wyborcza”, one of the biggest Polish daily papers claims that in the event of a possible vote absent PiS deputies were going to get an SMS with calls to immediately appear in the plenary hall.
The course and the quality of the debate does not deserve a detailed description. Suffice to say that the conservative opposition – the Civic Platform and the Modern party had the nerve to speak of a “revolution, which has a woman’s face” and criticize the Law and Justice for religious fanaticism. As if these groups have a different position on the question of abortion ban, which is still in force in Poland. Remarkable was the speech delivered by Mariusz Dzierżanowski from the Foundation Pro – Prawo do Życia (right to life). Among tones of nonsense he produced he stressed on the fact that “Polish hospitals take part in organized killing of children, financed by the Ministry of Health and the National Health Fund.” The Deputy Speaker who chaired the debate decorated the whole circus at the end by blocking the opportunity to ask questions and announced it when there were already 40 MPs on the list.
Today in the morning the MPs rejected the project during a plenary session. From what Beata Szydło, the Polish PM, said it does not look like any further attempts are going to made to make the abortion ban even stricter. On the other hand one of the most fervent Catholic fundamentalists in PiS – prof. Krystyna Pawłowicz wrote announced on Facebook, that Law & Justice “received an authorization from the Episcopate” to reject this bill as the church in Poland is against “punishing the women”. The “authorization” also covers a submission of another bill of such type by the government.
We shall see if this happens, but what is certain is that the so called Black Protest was a great victory.