Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Quick hit: Polish newspaper fined for abortion-related slur

The NYT reported today that a Polish court has ordered a Catholic magazine to pay a fine and apologize for calling a woman who tried to obtain an abortion a killer, and likening the practice as a whole to genocidal acts committed during the Holocaust. This is part of a heated and ongoing debate about abortion in Poland, a primarily Roman Catholic country where abortion is mostly illegal. The woman in question, Alicja Tysiac, attempted to obtain an abortion when it became clear that giving birth would significantly damage her eyesight. After challenging Poland's abortion ban with the European Court of Human Rights, Tysiac was awarded around $37,000 in damages because after childbirth, she was declared significantly disabled due to retinal hemorrhage.

The Catholic magazine, Gosc Niedzielny (Sunday Visitor), wrote: ''We live in a world where a mother receives an award for very much wanting to kill her child, but not being allowed to do so.'' He then compared abortion to genocidal crimes committed at Auschwitz, saying, "'They had become accustomed to the murders being carried out behind the fence of the camp. And what is the case today? Different, but just as terrible." The magazine is now claiming that the ruling is a freedom of speech violation.

This whole situation, to me, is just terribly, terribly sad - I can't imagine that being awarded damages from the Polish government, unless it can restore her eyesight, will help Tysiac significantly, and I also wonder what pursuing this in court is doing to her family. The fact is that she should have been allowed to obtain an abortion when she discovered that giving birth would impair her health, and being publicly libeled in addition to being disabled is really horrifying - this magazine should be reprimanded, but I'm also not sure whether the discourse on abortion is going to improve because of the court's intervention.

Thoughts? Also, does anyone know about the situation with birth control availability in Poland?

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