Warsaw’s mayor said Wednesday she fired the head of a maternity hospital who refused to perform or facilitate an abortion of a badly deformed fetus for reasons of conscience.
The case — which saw the recently delivered baby put under intensive care with major brain and skull deformity — has stirred wide debate in Polish media, raising questions about the boundaries of faith in public life in a country that is traditionally Catholic but increasingly becoming secular.
Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz said she fired obstetrician Bogdan Chazan, a declared Catholic, over the case. She said a review showed that Chazan refused to perform an abortion toward the end of the legally-allowed period and failed to advise the woman on where an abortion was available and on the approaching deadline.
Warsaw’s Roman Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, said that the sacking of Chazan amounted to a “dangerous precedent that hurt the rights not only of the Catholics, but of all people.”
It was not clear why the couple had not sought abortion at a different hospital or why they waited so long before making a decision.
Pregnancies in Poland can be terminated before the 24th week if the fetus is in seriously poor health. A doctor can refuse for reasons of conscience, but has a legal obligation to direct the patient to another doctor.