Pro-Familia Hospital of Rzeszów, Poland has stopped performing abortions after all of its doctors signed a conscience clause allowing them to opt out of the procedure.
Currently, abortions are illegal in Poland except in cases of rape, fetal abnormality, and risk to the mother’s health.
In January 2014, midwife Agata Rejman brought the hospital’s abortions to light during a press conference, explaining that she was part of a group of workers who refused to be involved, under protection of the conscience clause.
Rejman was promptly threatened by the management, specifically manager Radosław Skiba, who insisted Rejman retract her statements that Pro-Familia “kills children.” She was also asked to pay 50,000 zlotych to Podkarpackie Hospice for Children for damaging Pro-Familia’s reputation.
Rejman received strong support from pro-life groups who protested in front of the hospital. Two activists were sued for spreading “false information” in saying that abortion was an act of killing. In the end, no legal action was taken against her and the activists, Jacek Kotula and Przemysław Sycz, were cleared from all accusations.
Now Pro-Familia no longer performs abortions, after all of the gynecologists signed the conscience clause.
Multiple news sources have cited different causes for the cease in abortions at Pro-Familia including pro-life activism, the influence of hospital chaplains, and the commitment of Bishop Jan Wątroba of Rzeszów and Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski of Łódź.
Director Radosław Skiba maintains that the hospital’s movement away from abortions was a decision that had nothing to do with the pro-life activists, but Mariusz Dzierżawski from the Right to Life Foundation said that the change shows that “the pickets are an effective tool in fighting abortion.”
Dzierżawski said that the demonstrations awakened the conscience of the gynecologists, especially one that formerly believed that “abortions should be performed in every hospital in Poland.”
“We continue the ‘Hospitals without Abortionists campaign’,” Dzierżawski said. “If the hospital most aggressive against pro-life activists can stop killing the unborn, then any and every hospital can and should do it. Only courage and perseverance are needed.”