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Bogdan Chazan: appeal to the Minister of Health

APPEAL to the Minister of Health

The new government is very energetic in putting various matters in order, paying particular attention to problems related to – as it puts it – “reproductive health”. This formulation itself partly defines the specific approach of the new authorities to these problems. After all, the word “reproduction” refers to the reproduction of farm animals. Using it in reference to women indicates a special way of treating matters related to procreation and the health of mothers and children. This approach is reflected in planned activities that raise the highest concern.

Minister Izabela Leszczyna solemnly announces that the use of the conscience clause by doctors will not be possible if there is a threat to the patient’s life. Unnecessarily, because this provision is known and used without any reservations. There are voices that the conscience clause should not apply in medical care. It is impossible. A doctor, midwife or nurse are people with the same rights as others, internal autonomy and a system of values. Freedom of conscience does not result from a grant of this or that government, but is an inherent right of every human being. A doctor is not and cannot be an involuntary being, carrying out all the orders of his superior, he or she cannot be hired for any procedure, especially one that involves killing a person. With his diploma, a doctor received a license to diagnose and treat diseases, provide relief from suffering, and not kill people. 

The Minister also announces that all hospitals will now fully implement the contract with the National Health Fund and obediently kill unborn children. Yes, conscience is a feature of an individual person, not an institution, but hospitals have certain traditions, some of them have been employing people with the Hippocratic way of medical thinking for years and are known for taking care to respect the sanctity of human life and, above all, do no harm. Meanwhile,  the Minister announces that all doctors will be forced to obey her orders, and all hospitals will “ensure the termination of pregnancy.”  This means that all hospitals and all doctors working there are to be equally “immersed” in the abortion business, to be slaves in doing evil, in hunting down weak and sick, incorrectly built children, or in following the orders of parents dictated by convenience and insensitivity to the fate of their own children. No one can be blameless, everyone must be “damned”, no one can feel superior. It is then easier to manage human teams.

The Minister says to hospitals: “If you want to have a contract with the National Health Fund, you must provide a package of benefits.” That means: you must kill children. Meanwhile, in 2015, the Constitutional Tribunal stated that medical entities cannot be forced to provide “morally sensitive” services, and in Italy most hospitals do not perform abortions. In our country, everyone, even religious ones, has to do it.  What about the hospital’s patron? We have many hospitals in Poland proud of the name of Saint. John Paul II. Should prenatal murders be carried out under this banner? It would then be necessary to put an end to this dissonance and give the hospital that engaged in killing people the name of “heroes” for whom this practice was an everyday occurrence: Felix Dzerzhinsky, Lavrenty Beria or Ernesto Che Guevara. 

If the easy availability of killing the unborn is to be introduced into a hard law, we demand that public hospitals and doctors employed there be abolished from this obligation. We are convinced that the same doctors assisting in the birth of a child on one floor and participating a moment later on the second floor in killing babies, including those born just before birth, as provided for in the planned laws, will have an adverse impact on the doctors’ involvement in saving the lives of mothers and their children. children in cases of danger, will have a negative impact on the quality of their work and their morale . When doctors produce children and kill them, human life will become a relative value for them. The conscience clause of doctors who are also heads of departments or directors of hospitals will become a significant problem. Apparently they will be obliged to employ doctors who do not report the need to use the conscience clause. What about their own medical conscience? Should they leave it at the entrance to the hospital they run? The new regulations will mean that a pro-life doctor will not be able to hold managerial positions. This is contrary to human rights.

If abortions are to be performed necessarily, which we loudly protest against, this practice can be carried out by trained thanatologists (killing specialists) in abortion facilities on the outskirts of cities, run by a non-governmental organization, as is the case in the Netherlands. In Poland, it could be the Federation for Women and Family Planning. And doctors, nurses and midwives must be given peace of mind, allowed to peacefully pursue their vocations, to serve life and health. 

It is difficult to agree with the argument currently common in liberal circles that women are now afraid of getting pregnant because they are deprived of the possibility of killing their child if it turns out to be disabled. The Minister also promotes such theories, citing the tragic cases of mothers dying during childbirth that have recently occurred. However, the conducted investigations proved that the cause of death was improper medical treatment. The current abortion law had nothing to do with it. Attempts are made to justify the doctors making decisions in these cases by saying that they were “frozen” by the law, which caused their momentary decision-making paralysis and prevented them from making correct, life-saving decisions.

No doctor in Poland has been convicted of deciding to save a mother’s life, even at the cost of her child’s death. Current law provides for the possibility of performing an abortion in the event of a threat to the mother’s life.  But it must also be stated emphatically that  inducing labor or a miscarriage when the mother’s life is at risk is not an abortion, it is an action taken out of necessity to save her. It is not an abortion when a doctor saves the mother and the child dies.  Abortion occurs when there is an action aimed directly at the life of the child before its birth, which was not the case in the above-mentioned cases. Therefore, we appeal to the Minister to stop misleading public opinion about the essence of abortion and the real causes of the tragic events in hospitals in Pszczyna and Częstochowa and to stop unjustified and unethical scaring of married couples who want to enlarge their families.

The Minister wants “women to feel safe in health care institutions when they turn to those who are called to take care of our health, to make it safe, bright and colorful.” We sincerely wish you good luck in such activities. The reports of midwives who say that the atmosphere in the hospital procedure room after an abortion is not that of a dissecting room is not “bright and colorful” at all, which proves that the Minister’s dreams of a pleasant atmosphere in hospitals where abortions will be a frequently performed procedure are unlikely to materialize.

We are convinced that women’s health safety can be ensured by competent medical assistance provided with heart and dedication, and not by making it easier to kill their innocent children.  The popularization of abortion for any reason and for no reason will result in a deterioration of women’s somatic and mental health, an increase in the incidence of infertility, complications of pregnancy and childbirth, depression and suicide. Numerous scientific publications talk about it. Easing access to abortion means depriving medicine of trust and love in the relationships of medical staff with patients and their families.

The Minister’s other formulations arouse real concern and even fear. By announcing her actions, she wants to ensure that “the medical entity really has no conscience.” This bodes very badly for these “entities”, the staff who work in them, and current and future patients. 

Sick people will avoid hospitals that declare they have no conscience, and no decent doctor, midwife or nurse will want to work in such a hospital. It will be rather dangerous and dark there, because medicine without conscience is dead.

I am appealing to the Minister of Health with a polite request and a firm demand to refrain from actions that are contrary to constitutional values, the Code of Medical Ethics, and the goals of health care for mothers and their children. The implementation of these intentions will bring disease and death instead of patient safety and health.

Prof. Dr. Bogdan Chazan

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