Canada can learn some valuable lessons from Poland and their fight against abortion.
Just like Poland once did, Canada has no legal restrictions on abortion. Also just like Poland, our own government still refuses to debate abortion and our own media is heavily biased in favour of abortion.
The similarities are striking. Yet Poland is about to make all abortions illegal.
It began in 1980 when the Polish people set out to abolish their existing abortion law. It was a very difficult task, especially because of communism. According to Dr. Eng. Antoni Zięba:
"The regime in force at that time promoted abortion and made any public debate on this subject impossible – through media censorship and the ban on publishing not only magazines or materials but even leaflets about it... Doctors and nurses who refused to perform abortions lost their jobs....officially in the year 1980 we had 138,000 abortions per year, but in reality it was 3 or 4 times more. We posses some scientific estimations speaking about 600,000 abortions in Poland a year. These tragic numbers shocked us, forced us to act. But it was the communists propaganda which worried us the most, because of it the social consciousness concerning the evil of abortion was alarmingly low."
(Dr. Zięba's lecture is quite amazing. I suggest you read it.)
So what could be done within this repressive Communist Polish regime? Well the Poles had a powerful arrow in their quiver. Although this tool is readily available to all people everywhere, I would hazard to guess that people of the "pro-choice" persuasion, don't use it too often.
The Polish people had prayer. And the Polish people started to pray.
In 1979 Pope John Paul II visited his homeland and told the people of Poland:
“You need to pray always, and never stop. Jesus said to pray and form your life through prayer ... I express the wish and I always pray for this, that the Polish family may beget life and may be faithful to the sacred right to life” (Nowy Targ 8 June 1979).
What were the goals of this prayer initiative? Two things.
The first goal was to change Polish social consciousness regarding abortion:
“the social consciousness concerning the killing of unborn children and sensitize our society to the value of life and responsibility for each conceived human being..."
It seemed to be working. Opinion polls started to show that the objection to abortion was increasing:
"from about 35% in 1991 to 50% in 2010...this year, about 53% of Poles stood for the constitutional strengthening of the protection of human life, and around 33% of them were against."
The second goal was to create legal protection:
"to pray in the intention of abolishing the Abortion Law of 27 April 1956 and of recognizing the right to life for all conceived children...This law, let me remind you the overall number, resulted in the death of over 20 million Polish children."
By 1993 the existing abortion law was changed. Now there were now only three exceptions:
"when the life or the health of mother is endangered, when the foetus was seriously malformed and when there is suspicion that the pregnancy was a result of a criminal act".
(This law did not punish the women, but rather the doctor. Something else for Canada to think about.)
The latest success story in Poland's abortion story came at the beginning of this July.
After a successful 600,000 signature petition, which included obstetricians, gynaecologists, lawyers and journalists among its signatories, Poland’s government voted to tighten their abortion laws further by an overwhelming vote of 254 – 151 with 11 abstentions.
The fact that Poland's medical profession, lawyers and journalists were so supportive of this initiative, is key to Canada's situation too. We must get them on side.
The new law would:
"protect the right to life from the moment of conception in all circumstances by removing all exceptions from the nation's abortion laws. The law currently permits abortion for matters dealing with maternal health, rape and incest and fetal disability, which has been interpreted to include treatable issues such as cleft palate. The measure is most likely to be referred to a commission prior to the October election."
Canada can do like Poland did. We can pray. We can change social consciousness. We can blog. We can start our own grass roots movement. We can start our own petition. Maybe a petition all Canadians can agree on--like one that would ban all third-trimester abortions. We can write letters to Mr. Harper, to our MPs and to our newspapers. Repeatedly. Until they listen.
We can do it. Just like Poland did.