Poland has a judge problem. Although abortion is much more restricted in Poland than it is in the U.S., a Polish judge has ordered pro-life protesters to stop saying that abortion is killing. But it gets worse. The judge has dictated language to the pro-lifers (or at least to one of the pro-lifers, Jacek Kotula) for an apology to the hospital at which they were protesting. She (the judge) tells Kotula that he must say the following:
[By] organizing pickets and manifestations in defense of unborn children, I was spreading false information about the work of the hospital Pro-Familia in Rzeszow. In particular, I was spreading information that the babies in this hospital were being killed.
Let's be clear: It is not that the hospital is saying that abortions are not performed there. The above wording of an apology would make sense if the claim that abortions are performed at this hospital were simply a false claim. But that isn't what this lawsuit is about. Rather, the hospital admits that abortions are done on its premises but says that "pregnancy terminations" aren't baby killing and that the pro-lifers must be stopped from calling them "killing." The judge agrees and orders Kotula to apologize and to call it "false information" that babies are being killed at the hospital.
Just occasionally one runs across people who will argue that civil disobedience is not called for in the abortion wars because laws permitting abortion are not requiring pro-lifers to do anything wrong themselves. This case is a counterexample to that claim. Here pro-lifers are being directly ordered by a court to tell falsehoods about abortion--namely, to say that abortion does not kill babies.
The pro-lifers have appealed the ruling, which I assume means that they aren't issuing the apology. I hope that they never do so, under any circumstances. This particular pro-life group seems pretty feisty; there is reason to hope that they would go to jail rather than say what the judge has dictated.
Another point that comes to my mind from reading this story is the way that abortion activism is often driven from the top down. Nobody could claim plausibly that what the judge is doing here is a result of the evils of democracy! Both Polish law and Polish popular opinion strongly support the idea that abortion is killing. The judge is unilaterally imposing her own pro-choice ideas, which are in conflict not only with reality but also with the will of the majority of the Polish people, on the pro-life protesters.
It's easy to forget the history of abortion in our own country. It's true that America in 1973 was probably not as pro-life at a popular level as Poland in 2014, but Roe v. Wade was a huge judicial imposition nonetheless. Anti-democracy reactionary conservatives frequently ignore actual history in their push to say that the whole problem is democracy. Even the fact that judges are appointed by an official (such as the President) who is elected is a weak argument, since the entire point of the indirect influence of the popular will upon judicial nomination was to make judicial positions less a product of democracy than the position of an ordinary politician. That is also the point in American law of the fact that federal judges are appointed for life unless impeached. It appears that the court system in Poland is similarly a matter of appointment rather than direct election with the need to seek re-election.
Watching the imposition from on high of pro-abortion ideas in Poland should remind us of our own history. It should also encourage us to continue in the fight to spread pro-life truths at the popular level despite the bad teaching effects of law and never to give up our fight against abortion.
May God strengthen Jacek Kotula to resist this wicked court order, whatever happens in his appeal.
Related article here.