The XX Factor

Polish Party Leader: Women Must Birth Lethally Deformed Fetuses So They Can Be Baptized

Abortion rights campaigners protest in front of the Law and Justice Party headquarters in Warsaw, Poland, on Oct. 3, 2016.

Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Polish women aren’t out of the woods yet. Barely a week after the conservative government abandoned a proposal that would outlaw abortion in all circumstances, the Law and Justice Party has thrown its support behind a similar measure. Polish law currently allows for abortion in the case of rape, incest, lethal fetal deformity, or threat to the mother’s life. But Law and Justice Party Chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski recently declared that his conservative ruling party will propose a law establishing that even in “cases of very difficult pregnancies, when the child is certain to die, very deformed,” the mother will still be forced to give birth—“so that the child can be baptized, buried, have a name.”

Thanks to Kaczynski’s increasing authoritarianism, Poland is currently in the midst of a constitutional crisis, as the Law and Justice Party attempts to consolidate power by defanging the formerly independent judiciary. Kaczynski has also severely cracked down on press freedom in likely violation of European Union law. But his anti-abortion campaign may be the best example of Kaczynski’s disturbing crusade against democracy and individual freedom in favor of blind nationalism and religious conservatism. The Law and Justice Party’s initial abortion ban was so extreme that mass protests forced Kaczynski to retreat. But the party leader is obviously bent on using the abortion issue to solidify support among religious nationalists, and his new, purportedly narrower measure may prove more difficult to defeat.

Incidentally, a great number of American politicians share Kaczynski’s views on abortion—including Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who opposes letting women abort severely deformed fetuses. Rubio is an anti-abortion radical who was somehow perceived as a more moderate alternative to Ted Cruz this election season. In reality, Cruz and Rubio hold identical views on abortion.

Of course, thanks to the First Amendment, Rubio cannot concede that his anti-abortion proposals have an explicitly religious purpose, as Kaczynski does. Where Kaczynski acknowledges that he wants to force women to birth deformed fetuses so they can be baptized, Rubio must wax blandly about a “culture of life.” But that’s about the only difference between the authoritarian’s and the senator’s stated views on women’s reproductive rights.