Doctor Fired in Abortion Incident for Refusal to Perform or Refer

Country: Poland

Date of incident: July 8, 2014

A Polish doctor was fired from his position as the director of Holy Family Hospital in Warsaw for refusing to perform an abortion on grounds of his conscience and for not referring the mother to a doctor who would do it. Dr. Chazan was dismissed by the mayor of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz.

A 22-week-pregnant woman asked Dr. Chazan for an abortion of her child due to grave deformities. Dr. Chazan declined, referring to the conscience clause in the Polish Constitution. The law however requires to give the patient the name of another doctor who would perform an abortion instead. Dr. Chazan refused to do so because he considered referring her to someone else is a form of indirectly taking part in the act. However, Dr. Chazan offered the pregnant woman medical advice, hospital care before, during and after the pregnancy, and perinatal hospice care for the child.
The baby was born at a different hospital with severe head and facial deformities and a brain that was not viable, conditions which ended into death of the child shortly after the birth.
Dr. Chazan was dismissed by the mayor of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz.
This case has stirred up a new dire debate between conservatives and liberals.
Warsaw's Roman Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, said the dismissal was a "dangerous precedent that violates the rights not just of Catholics but of everyone".
Article 53 of the Polish Constitution guarantees a doctor the legal right to freedom of conscience.
Dr. Chazan was one of 3,000 doctors and medical students who signed a “declaration of faith“ initiated by Dr Wanda Poltawska affirming the Catholic church’s teaching that all human life is sacred from the moment of conception.