martedì 29 maggio 2018

(Drew Hinshaw and Francis X. Rocca) Some see Irish voters’ move to legalize abortion as pressuring Poland to loosen its laws. Ireland’s vote on Friday to legalize abortion echoed through another Roman Catholic-majority country in Europe, but one where the procedure is broadly illegal and the subject of a continuing battle. “Ireland could be a pattern for Poland,” said Rozalia Kielmans-Ratynska, a legal analyst at the antiabortion Ordo Iuris Institute. “We think that now there will be pressure on Poland also to go the same direction.”The Irish referendum—in which 66% of voters chose to allow parliament to legalize abortion—underscored the decadeslong decline of the Catholic church as a political force in that nation.
It also accentuated a mirror image in Poland, the last major nation in Europe whose Catholic Church still dominates politics, society, and culture. The only outstanding question on abortion in Poland is whether its Catholic and conservative government will succeed in tightening already strict laws regulating the procedure. Polish law prohibits abortion except in cases where the pregnancy results from a crime—such as rape or incest—threatens the health of the mother, or where the fetus suffers severe and irreversible impairment.
Bishops have pressed the ruling Law and Justice Party to introduce a law that would remove the allowance for fetuses with severe health problems such as Down syndrome, an exemption that accounts for roughly 96% of Poland’s legal and reported abortions. The party has introduced such proposals several times, but has sent them back for parliamentary review, after facing widespread protests by Poles who favor abortion rights.
“The debate is frozen,” said Liliana Religa, communications coordinator for The Federation for Women and Family Planning, an abortion-rights advocacy group in Warsaw. “The Ireland referendum was a great relief and source of happiness for us. We hope that Poland will follow the same path.”
The divergent paths of Ireland and Poland show the bifurcating direction of the Catholic church in Europe, as its clergy on the continent seek to ride turbulent tides of secularism, nationalism, and the shifting focus of the Church itself.
Under Pope Francis, the Vatican has recentered some of its emphasis on the faster growing populations of the developing world, in Latin America, Asia, or Africa. Although his two immediate predecessors, the Polish Pope John Paul II and German Pope Benedict XVI, called for a secularizing Europe to recover its Christian roots, the Argentine Pope Francis has largely focused on flocks outside Catholicism’s historic heartland.
The pope has also encouraged his clergy to play down culture-war issues of sexual and medical ethics in favor of calls for social and economic justice. He made no public statement in the run-up the Irish referendum.
Countries like Ireland and Poland are left to choose their own paths as they seek to fill pews in countries where populations are stagnating and young people are emigrating to wealthier, but more secular states like the U.K.
In Ireland, church sex-abuse scandals and secular liberalism have chipped away at both the Catholic church and the nationalism it once held arms with. In the run up to Friday’s referendum, clergy conceded that their criticism of the vote was unlikely to change its outcome—and might further inflame opinion against it.
“Ireland is now conforming to a western liberal democracy, especially on issues like abortion, same sex, civil partnership, marriage and divorce,” Archbishop Eamon Martin, president of the Irish Catholic bishops conference, told Irish public radio on Sunday. “This didn’t come out of the blue and it is not something new for us,” he added.
In Poland, however, nationalism is on the upswing. Polish voters sense that Europe is headed down a separate, more secular path, and the ruling Law and Justice party campaigns on this, portraying itself as a defender of threatened moral values.
That has reinforced the political position of the church. The popular state-owned news broadcaster, Telewizja Polska, unambiguously backs the culturally conservative views of local bishops. Its recent coverage of the Irish referendum referred to “the once Catholic Ireland.”
Local clergy and the local government have both rebuffed Pope Francis’s call to accept Muslim refugees. Crucifixes hang in many government offices, often next to the flag of the EU, an organization most Poles wish to stay a member of.
Poland was once among the easiest places in Europe to get access to an abortion. Under Communism, ferries brought pregnant women from Sweden and Denmark for the procedure, which was free of charge. “It was quite simple,” said Ewa Dąbrowska-Szulc, an abortion-rights activist in Poland. “You could go to the doctor or to the gynecologist in a state-owned hospital, and you didn’t pay anything.”
That changed at the end of the Cold War, when the Catholic church emerged as a widely-trusted voice endowed with moral authority. A 1993 law turned Poland into one of the most antiabortion nations in Europe. The number of legal and reported abortions plummeted to about 1,000 last year. Tens of thousands continue to cross the border, to nearby clinics in Germany and Slovakia with Polish staff on hand to manage the exodus, or take pills ordered from the internet.
A poll last week found 56% of Poles would like to keep the current abortion law as it is, 9% wished to tighten it and 29% wanted to loosen it, the Polish opinion polling organization IBRiS found. In January, liberal and centrist parties introduced a proposal to allow abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy.
Thirty-nine liberal and centrist members of parliament helped to vote it down.
Fonte: WSJ