Row over ruling on ‘eugenic abortion’ disturbs Lower House session

Tuesday’s Lower House proceedings were disrupted by opposition MPs of the Left (Lewica) and Civic Coalition (KO) who protested the Constitutional Court’s ruling on “eugenic abortion” that had triggered public protests in some major Polish cities. The misconduct urged the deputy Lower House speaker to call for the guards to alleviate the tense situation.

The Lower House two-days-long session begun on Tuesday with the house’s Deputy Speaker Ryszard Terlecki of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party commenting on Left and KO MPs’ facemasks that were marked with the Red Lightning – the symbol of the Women’s Strike movement that has been protesting the ruling of the Constitutional Court on “eugenic abortion” for the past couple of days.

“It is with a certain sadness that I recognise some Left and [Civic Coalition] MPs present in the house wearing facemasks marked with a symbol very closely resembling those of the Hitler Youth and Schutzstaffel [SS – Nazi paramilitary organisation]. However, I also recognise that the total opposition refers [doing so] to totalitarian models and I do regret to acknowledge it,” Mr Terlecki said.

Next, it was the PO’s MP Małgorzata Tracz who was given the floor. She too wore a red lightning-marked face mask.

“Sir Speaker, the honourable house, it is before our eyes that history is being written. For the past six days, thousands of young people have been protesting in the streets of Polish cities. They protest in defence of the right to chose, in defence of the right of abortion,” Ms Tracz said, adding that “this is war and this war you shall lose. And who might be responsible for this war? Deputy PM Kaczyński, this [war] is your responsibility.”

A scuffle between MPs ensued shortly after Left MP Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus filed a motion of addition of Left’s draft of abortion accessibility liberalisation law to the proceedings’ agenda. A group of other MPs accompanied Ms Scheuring-Wielgus at the rostrum holding plaques with “A woman decides” legend on it. Then the entire group stepped down from the platform, stopped by Mr Kaczyński’s seat and started brandishing plaques with “a woman decides” and “legal abortion” legends on them.

The female MPs were shouting “this is war!”. Faced with such a development, Deputy Lower House Speaker Terlecki announced a break and called for the Marshal's Guard of the Lower House to get hold of the situation. As a result, a large commotion ensued and Mr Terlecki debarred KO MPs Klaudia Jachira and Sławomir Nitras from the Lower House proceedings of the day.

Before ending up excluded from the rest of the session, MP Nitras called for adding a draft law to the proceedings’ agenda, a law that would see PLN 2 bn (EUR 0.44 mln) earmarked for the public media relocated to the fight with COVID-19 epidemic.