Poland offers payments for disabled newborns in bid to curb abortions

An anti-abortion protest in Warsaw last month

POLISH legislators have approved a government plan to pay bonuses to families who have a disabled child born, as part of a policy aimed at curbing the number of abortions.

The For Life plan, to take effect next year, provides for a one-time payment of 4,000 zlotys (£820) on the birth of a disabled child or one with a life-threatening disease.

Government member Elzbieta Witek said the money is intended as the "first step" of government support for families with disabled children.

Such families have long been demanding higher government provision, which currently stands at 1,300 zlotys (£266) a month for a parent taking care of the child full-time.

The conservative Law and Justice government, under the influence of the Catholic church, is seeking to ban abortions of deformed or sick foetuses, or even those with no chance of survival, to make baptism possible.

Poland's law bans abortions except for cases when the woman's life or health is threatened, the pregnancy results from rape or incest or the foetus is irreparably damaged. But under a general anti-abortion climate and threat of prison terms, doctors often refuse to perform even legal abortions.

Government figures say 1,040 abortions were performed last year, while experts say 150,000 were done illegally and secretly.

The government says most of the legal abortions are performed on foetuses with genetic defects like Down's syndrome and says that should be stopped.

The parliament, dominated by the ruling party, voted 267-140 in favour of the plan with 21 abstentions.


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