Hospital forced to stop abortions after doctors sign conscience clause in Poland

A hospital in Rzeszów, Poland has stopped doing abortions after its doctors signed a clause that allows them to opt out because of conscience.

The Specialist Hospital Pro-Familia has become notorious for performing abortions when a midwife named Agata Rejman exposed its activities two years ago.

A sign promoting the saving of unborn children. The location is the Marlborough region on State Highway 1 in the South Island of New Zealand. 15 February 2007 | Wikimedia Commons/Alan Liefting

In January 2014, Rejman spoke at a press conference and testified to the abortions that were being done in the hospital. She said she and others working there cited the conscience clause and said that they refused to be involved in abortion, Rzeszow News reported.

The management responded by demanding that Rejman retract her statements, especially those saying that Pro-Familia "kills children." Rejman was asked to pay 50,000 zlotych for Podkarpackie Hospice for Children and was threatened with a lawsuit if she failed to do this. 

Abortion is considered illegal in Poland, except when the pregnancy threatens the mother's health, when the baby shows conditions like Down syndrome, and when the pregnancy is caused by rape.

Pro-life groups showed their support to Rejman, and protests were held in front of the hospital. However, the hospital sued two persons involved in the protests, Jacek Kotula and Przemyslaw Sycz fron The Right to Life Foundation, in criminal and civil courts.

The hospital accused them of spreading false information by saying that abortion is an act of killing. The hospital also said they tarnished the hospital's reputation, which had a negative effect on the business. 

The criminal court eventually cleared Kotuula and Scyz from any accusation.

The issue was finally resolved after every gynecologist working at Pro-Familia signed a conscience clause, which forced the hospital to stop abortions.

Radoslaw Skiba, director of the hospital, said that abortions are no longer done in Pro-Familia, and that the hospital now works with local perinatal hospice. Although he confirmed that the hospital is no longer performing abortions, he said the decision had nothing to do with the pro-life activists' actions.