Poland's PM: doctor's duty is above his faith

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Associated Press

Posted on June 10, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 10 at 11:33 AM

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's prime minister, Donald Tusk, on Tuesday weighed into an abortion debate that is roiling emotions in the largely Catholic country, saying doctors have to put their obligation to the patient and the law above their religious beliefs.

Tusk's comment came after a well-known obstetrician in Warsaw, Bogdan Chazan, caused uproar by refusing to allow a woman to abort a fetus with serious head and brain defects. A declared Catholic, Chazan argued that an abortion would be against his personal beliefs and the woman now has to give birth to the child.

In Poland, abortion is legal until the 25th week of pregnancy when the mother's life is at risk or if the fetus is badly damaged or the result of rape or incest.

"Regardless of what his conscience is telling him, (a doctor) must carry out the law," Tusk said. "Every patient must be sure that ... the doctor will perform all procedures in accordance with the law and in accordance with his duties."

The woman has lodged a complaint with the health minister, who has ordered a review of the case.

Chazan is one of around 3,000 Polish doctors —from among some 161,000 — who have signed a "Declaration of Faith" saying they are believers and consider abortion, birth control, in vitro fertilization and euthanasia as being against their faith. The much-debated declaration also states the doctors "recognize the primacy of God's law over human law" and see the need to "counter the imposed, anti-human ideologies of contemporary civilization."

Poland's influential Catholic Church has voiced its support for the doctors who have signed the declaration.

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