A physician has become a popular hero in Poland, after he was fired from his position as director of Warsaw’s Holy Family Hospital for refusing to refer a pregnant woman for an abortion.
In April, Warsaw obstetrician Dr. Bogdan Chazan was approached by a woman who wanted an abortion, after learning that the baby she carried might be seriously deformed. The child had been conceived via in vitro fertilization in a fertility clinic.
Dr. Chazan refused to perform the abortion or to permit it to be carried out at his hospital, citing his personal opposition to abortion. Because of his “conflict of conscience,” Dr. Chazan also refused to refer the woman to an abortionist at another hospital. Instead, he offered to arrange for the child to be cared for in a hospice.
But Dr. Chazan did not have the right to refuse to refer to an abortionist, according to Warsaw mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz. (Abortion is legal in Poland until the 25th week of pregnancy if the life of the mother or child is at risk, or in cases of incest or rape.) In July, the mayor fired Dr. Chazan–causing a firestorm of protests by Catholic clergy and via social media in Poland.
According to LifeNews.com:
Although Polish law permits abortion of sick babies until viability, it does not create the right to an abortion. It merely decriminalizes abortion for the doctor and the mother. This particular pregnancy did not pose a danger to the woman’s health. Also, according to Polish law, any physician can invoke the country’s conscience clause, which ensures that no doctor or medical professional will ever be required to perform, or participate in, an abortion. Nonetheless, Chazan’s hospital was fined 70,000 zloty (approximately $23,000) for his refusal.
Dr. Chazan told the media,
“Today’s decision is the start of an attack on the conscience of doctors and people in management positions in the health service, it is a violation of their conscience. Abiding by the laws of nature, and first and foremost by the law that prohibits killing a person, will probably become a reason for eliminating these people from management positions.”
The Ordo Iuris Institute, a Polish legal organization, is defending Dr. Chazan, on the grounds that forcing him to refer for abortion is a violation of his constitutional right to freedom of conscience.
As the case works its way through the courts, please keep Dr. Chazan and other pro-life physicians in your prayers.