Doctors should carry out abortions even if it goes against their conscience, the Polish Prime Minister has said.
In Poland abortion is allowed up to the 25th week of pregnancy in cases where the mother’s life is at risk, the unborn baby is seriously disabled, or was conceived by rape or incest.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk made the intervention after a Roman Catholic doctor refused to perform an abortion.
Tusk said: “Regardless of what his conscience is telling him”, a doctor “must carry out the law”.
He added: “Every patient must be sure” that the doctor will “perform all procedures in accordance with the law and in accordance with his duties”.
His comments follow Bogdan Chazan, a Roman Catholic obstetrician, declining to abort a baby understood to have disabilities.
Chazan said that doing so would go against his personal beliefs. He is among some 3,000 Polish doctors who have signed a declaration stating their opposition to abortion and euthanasia.
Tusk became Prime Minister in 2007, and was re-elected in 2011 – becoming the first to serve consecutive terms since the end of communism in the country in 1989.
In Scotland two Roman Catholic midwives with conscientious objections to abortion won their case against the NHS in April 2013.
Judges at Edinburgh’s Court of Session ruled that Mary Doogan and Connie Wood’s right to conscientious objection means they do not have to delegate, supervise or support staff involved in abortions.
A pro-life group which has been backing the case said the result was “a great relief to all midwives, nurses and doctors who may be under pressure to supervise abortion procedures”.
The NHS later appealed the decision, and the case is set to be heard by the UK’s Supreme Court.