- October 2016 : Black Monday strike against ban on abortion
A new draft law was proposing an absolute ban on abortion, carrying jail time up to five years for both women and their doctors, no matter under what the circumstances of the abortion may have been.
In response to the proposal, Polish women went on strike Monday 3 October, boycotting work and school in Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw and across the country, in what was called the ’Black Monday’ Strike. In consequence, the draft law was rejected by the ruling party.
- July 2016 : Visit of Pope Francis to Poland
Poland is actively preparing the visit of the Pope, expected next July, during the celebration of the 1050th anniversary of the baptism of Mieszko I, first king of Poland.
The Act of 18 March 2016 on the special solutions adopted for the organization of the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis in the Republic of Poland and the World Youth Days (see the Act in polish) - Kraków 2016 introduces among others, special tasks of public administration for ensuring security, public order, safety, and medical transportation during these events. It provides the principles of cooperation between the public administration and the Archdiocese of Krakow (organizer of World Youth Day).
The Catholic international gathering of youth, World Youth Day, will take place in 2016 in Krakow, 25th-31st July. During the World Youth Day in Poland, Pope Francis will be visiting Krakow, Jasna Góra (Częstochowa), and Auschwitz (see the program).
In the presence of the President of the Republic of Poland and the highest authorities of the country, Pope Francis will concelebrate the Mass on the occasion of the 1050th anniversary of the baptism of Poland, an event of national importance.
From December 2015 to June 2016, seven meetings were organised in the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy in Krakow-Łagiewniki. Special guests invited from Poland and abroad presented the topics of mercy and works of mercy. The series of meetings and spiritual conferences entitled “For us and for the whole world” are broadcast online.
- May 2016 : A controversial issue in vitro fertilization (IVF)
Under social pressure, the former coalition government of Poland (2007-2015) has unsuccessfully tried to pass a legislation concerning in vitro fertilization (IVF). In June 2015, the Polish parliament finally passed a law on the treatment of IVF. The law (which came into force from 1st November 2015) provides the right to use the in vitro procedure for marriages and those in partnership relations. IVF method will be available after other treatments, conducted for at least 12 months, have been exhausted. The Bureau of the Polish Bishops’ Conference clearly expressed its opinion in the debate, notably announcing that from a “moral point of view, in vitro fertilization cannot be accepted, as it turns man into a product of human activity, and is subjected to technical, not ethical, rationality”. The former Minister of Health, prof. Marian Zembala, stressed that IVF does not exceed ethics boundaries. He also presented to the public a new state budget plan including financing for IVF proceedings, for the years 2015-2019. His official statement caused massive protests coming from PiS (Law and Justice) party, in October 2015, at the time of the elections (see Polska Newsweek and TVP info). The new financing support for treatment of infertility involves over 304 million PLN. It is the first time in the history of Polish medical treatment that IVF is financed by the state. The official data presented by the Ministry of Health show that already 3000 children are born as a result of this method.
The ruling conservative Law and Justice party won parliamentary elections last year. The current government is trying to restore a significant role of the Catholic Church in the Polish society. Because it is heavily supported by the Catholic Church, some of the actions of the ruling party have very strong ties to Christian values. The recent protests highlighted diverging tendencies among many Poles. (See Natemat or Polska Newsweek).
According to the new regulation on the financing of health programs (Official Journal of Minister of Health of 11 March 2010. No. 4. pos. 32, in particular § 9), the Minister of Health has approved the distribution of public funds allocated in 2016 for the implementation of special purpose treatment of infertility IVF method, only until 30 June 2016. After that date, public financing for IVF will cease completely.
- April 2016 : New project of anti-abortion law
The provisions of the current law on abortion (the Act of 7 January 1993 on family planning, protection of the human foetus and conditions of permissibility of abortion) permit abortion only when the woman’s life or health is threatened, when the pregnancy results from a crime, including rape or incest, or when the foetus is irreparably damaged. The current provisions of law have been systematically criticized by believers and by the politicians of right-side wing parties as a wrongful fruit of the unmoral compromise made in 1993 between the Catholic Church and the liberal circles.
A new debate was open after the parliamentary election in 2015, because the power is currently held by a conservative government whose members mostly stress that they are Catholics and follow the bishops’ teaching.
In 2016, the Catholic church is celebrating the anniversary of the 1050 years of Poland’s baptism. The Bureau of the Polish bishops’ conference clearly expressed its opinion in the debate, "In this jubilee year of Poland’s baptism, we urge all people of goodwill, believers and nonbelievers, to take action to ensure full legal protection of unborn lives." In the opinion of the polish sociologist Zbigniew Mikolejko, the call of polish bishops to tighten the anti-abortion law is the price for the support of the Catholic Church to the ruling party PiS (Law and Justice).
After April 3, 2016, when the Polish bishops’ message against abortion was read out in the churches, pro-abortion groups held protests in many cities. (See Wiadomości and Polska Newsweek.) The leader of the PO (Civic Platform) Grzegorz Schetyna supports the pro-abortion groups, and announced that new street protests and referendum initiatives to save the current liberal provisions on abortion are coming soon. Many pro-abortion groups support the actions against the project of new law. (See Plotek) Many famous people also took part in a protest against anti-abortion law on Facebook, #wspieramdziewuchy.
The government has reacted with caution. Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said that the government is not preparing any legislation on abortion. She argued that such a sensitive and important issue has become an element of political struggle.
The pro-life group „Stop Abortion” is now collecting the votes to support the new project of law on abortion. The new provisions establish prison sentences of up to five years for doctors, other health workers, and the woman, involved in an abortion process. The project of law is available here (in Polish).