Saturday, February 24, 2007

Prawo do narodzin

In the states, we think a lot about our rights--the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the right to bear arms, the right to free speech, and so on. The world at large has picked up on the vocabulary, and "human rights" are everywhere spoken of. I've seen a "Patient's Bill of Rights" posted in a hospital. The United Nations has drafted a "Child's Bill of Rights," too. But I don't think they included this one.

I saw a large billboard last week, featuring this picture. Large letters proclaimed "Prawo do narodzin," and proposed a constitutional amendment to guarantee this right do ka┼╝dego dziecku. Translated, they are suggesting that the Polish constitution should guarantee the "right to birth" to every child. What's sad is that it should be necessary at all.

Poland is already one of the very few countries of the world in which abortion is illegal--and not just abortion. Sterilization surgeries for both men and women are also illegal. Maybe no one remembers what a society looks like under these conditions, so let me describe it briefly.

First of all, single mothers are extremely rare. But you mustn't think that no access to abortions curtails promiscuity. By no means. So what does a young girl do when she find herself pregnant? You may find this shocking, but...she gets married. Both sets of parents generally insist on the wedding, and it is extremely usual for the young couple to continue living with one set of parents or the other, because they are not in a financial position to support themselves.

And yet, they get married. The grandparents help look after the baby. A few years down the road, they move into a place of their own. They often have a second child. And they don't get divorced very often either. Does this sound anachronistic? It's 2007 here in Poland, too. Virtually every man, woman, and child over the age of eight carries a cell phone, wireless internet permeates the city, and the cinemas are showing the same blockbusters that your local theaters are showing. The plain and simple fact is that family values have not been entirely abandoned, and young people are expected to take responsibility for their mistake--and they do consider pregnancy before marriage a mistake, but not one that the innocent should suffer for.

I think some elements in Poland feel threatened by the values (or non-values) of the European Union, and want this constitutional amendment to provide some insurance that Poland can continue directing her own society without interference. I don't know how much hope they have. Like the unborn, they don't have a lot of defenses against the "big guys."


At 9:03 PM , Blogger Mama Squirrel said...

I'm just guessing, but would the conservative values in Poland come from the fact that it is still basically a Roman Catholic country, and from the influence of the last Pope? I know that his writings had a strong influence on North American Catholics who were starting their families 20 years or so ago.


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