Europe / Health / International News

Anti-abortion Poland offers payments for disabled newborns

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish lawmakers approved Friday a government plan of bonuses for families that have a disabled child born to them, as part of a policy aimed at curbing the number of abortions.

The “For Life” plan, to take effect next year, provides for a one-time payment of 4,000 zlotys ($1,000) upon the birth of a disabled child or one with a life-threatening disease.

Government member Elzbieta Witek said the money is intended as the “first step” of government support for families with disabled children. Such families have long been demanding higher government provisions, which currently stands at 1,300 zlotys a month for a parent taking care of the child full-time.

The conservative Law and Justice government, under the influence of the Catholic church, is seeking to ban abortions of deformed or sick fetuses, or even those with no chance of survival, to make possible their baptism and burial.

Poland’s law bans abortions except for cases when the woman’s life or health is threatened, the pregnancy results from rape or incest or the fetus is irreparably damaged. But under the general anti-abortion climate and threat of prison terms, doctors often refuse to perform the admissible abortions.

Government figures say that 1,040 abortions were performed last year, while experts say some 150,000 abortions are done illegally and secretly.

The government says that most of the legal abortions are performed on fetuses with genetic defects like Down syndrome and says that should be stopped.

The parliament, dominated by the ruling party, voted 267-140 in favor of the plan with 21 abstentions.


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