Family minister reports on aid to disabled, supports abortion verdict

The minister on Tuesday presented to the Sejm a report on support for disabled children as part of the governmental programme 'For life.' Piotr Nowak/PAP

No one has the right to kill unborn children, Family Minister Marlena Maląg said on Tuesday in the Sejm (lower house), presenting a report on government support for the disabled as she referred to Thursday's ban on abortion due to foetal defects.

The minister on Tuesday presented to the Sejm a report on support for disabled children as part of the governmental programme 'For life.'

Last Thursday, the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that abortion due to foetal defects was unconstitutional, a decision which sparked countrywide protests, causing outrage among women.

The protests of mostly young people have been ongoing across Poland since the announcement of the top court's ruling. The verdict disturbs an uneasy abortion compromise that has maintained a fragile balance between the opposing sides for nearly three decades, since 1993.

Commenting on the protests, Maląg blamed them on the opposition, which in her opinion was harnessing the social emotions sparked by the ban for its own political ends.

Maląg said no one had the right to kill unborn children. "Human life is a value at every development stage (...) and should be protected by the constitution. (...) To be able to fight for dignity, we have to be able to live. We have no right to kill unborn children," she said.

The minister said that the government spent more than PLN 15 bln (EUR 3.28 bln) on support for the disabled in 2015, whereas in 2020 the figure rose to PLN 27 bln (EUR 5.90 bln), and added that the governing conservative coalition, the United Right, had prepared a "programme of comprehensive family support: 'For Life'."

The programme provides "comprehensive care for families with disabled people (...) including care offered to the mother and child during pregnancy and after birth," she also said.

"Within the 'For Life' programme financial pan, we spent PLN 3 bln (EUR 660 mln) in 2017-2021. In the next budget of 2022-2026, we will spend PLN 3.2 bln (EUR 700 mln)," the family minister said.

Maląg said the government had also introduced legislation that streamlines the execution of alimony from fathers who abandon mothers with disabled children.

Another instrument supporting the disabled is the Solidarity Fund from which people unable live on their own can claim up to PLN 500 (EUR 109) monthly, Maląg said.

In total, the government spent PLN 14 bln (EUR 3.06 bln) on Solidarity Fund programmes over two years, 2019 and 2020, according to Maląg.

This year the government also launched an additional programme of medical aid for the disabled "to support their vocational activity," the minister went on to say.

Even before the controversial ruling, abortion laws in Poland were some of the strictest in the EU. With abortions declared inadmissible when pre-natal tests reveal a high probability of irreversible damage to the foetus or its affliction with an incurable and life-endangering ailment, only two other possibilities for legal abortions will remain in Poland, including immediate threats to a woman's life and incest/rape.