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THE WORLD FROM THE CATHOLIC ANGLE

Professor Bogdan Chazan, Razem.tvI was inspired to write about Prof. Chazan by an article on Aleteia.org by John Burger.

The case

Few months ago the Irish Times published a text about a Polish doctor, professor Bogdan Chazan, who was fired from the hospital after refusing to allow his patient to have an abortion because of his Catholicism.

According to the article, a woman pregnant with the child diagnosed with lethal deformations, demanded an abortion. Prof Chazan denied the abortion on conflict of conscience basis, didn't inform the patient that it would be illegal to abort the child after 24th week of pregnancy, and ordered some unnecessary tests which caused her to miss the deadline.

In short, the doctor tricked his patient into having a deformed baby with a very short life expectancy.

Or so it appears.

Declaration of Faith

5th of March 2014 dr Wanda Pułtawska published the Declaration of Faith of Medical Doctors and Students on the Subject of Sexuality and Fertility. The Declaration is an open letter voicing opposition to abortion among other things. It was signed by almost 4000 medical professionals and students to date. One of the signatories was professor Chazan.

That is the real start of prof. Chazan's case.

As the declaration like that could cause serious trouble to abortion, sale of contraceptives, in-vitro, and what not, all the leftist politicians including the minister for health, and all the mainstream media and Internet were immediately set off to the extent that the whole thing started to resemble panic and witch-hunt. The craze went to such extremities that high officials publicly condemned a document called Declaration of Faith of the Teachers despite the fact that nothing like that ever existed!

Abortion laws in Poland

In Poland abortion is illegal except:

• when continuation of pregnancy is dangerous to mother's life or health,

• in case of grievous and irreversible defect or incurable life threatening disease of the foetus up to the moment when the foetus is capable to survive outside the mother's body (WHO standards define it to be 22nd week of pregnancy however in Poland some doctors believe it to be 24th week),

• in case of reasonable suspicion that the pregnancy is an effect of a prohibited act.

The doctors have right to deny the abortion on conscience clause basis but in such a case they are obliged by the law to refer the patient to a doctor or institution doing abortions. The latter part of the regulation was appealed to Constitutional Tribunal on grounds of being unconstitutional and awaits the decision of the Tribunal.

The sequence of events

The story as told by media is somewhat different from what happened. There are quite a few discrepancies and unsaid facts, namely:

•  The pregnancy was an effect of the in-vitro procedure, preceded by four miscarriages.

•  The woman in question was never prof. Chazan's patient. She was a patient of another doctor from the Holy Family Hospital, dr Maciej Gawlak. Prof. Chazan was only a consulting doctor in that case.

•  On 27th of March 2014 (21st week of pregnancy) after the first indication that there might be something wrong with the foetus during ultrasound examination the patient was immediately referred to another, more specialized hospital, the Institute of Mother and Child for further examination. The same day dr Gawlak informed the patient about her options related to abortion.

•  A day later, 28th of March, the patient was admitted to the Institute. The doctors there confirmed some malformations but weren't able to determine their exact type due to difficult foetus position and obesity of the patient. The patient informed then the Institute that she wanted to terminate the pregnancy. She was refused. The Institute conducted further tests including genetic karyotype, necessary for further medical assessment of the foetus and for establishing whether or not the pregnancy meets the conditions of legal abortion regulations.

 

•  2nd of April the patient was brought back to the Holy Family.

•  11th of April the aforementioned karyotype test results were ready.

•  12th -13th of April – 24th week of pregnancy passed.

•  Three days later, 14th of April, the patient officially demanded an abortion on the meeting with her doctor and prof. Chazan at the Holy Family in writing.

•  16th of April she received the official refusal of termination also in writing.

•  17th of April she was refered by dr Gawlak to Bielany Hospital for the termination of pregnancy.

•  18th of April Bielany Hospital refused to perform the abortion claiming that the procedure on foetus's medical condition grounds can be only performed legally up to 24th week of pregnancy.

•  June 2014, after discovering that prof. Chazan signed a Declaration of faith a media campaign was set off.

•  30th of June. The patient's child, a boy with anencephaly was born by caesarean section in Bielany hospital. The boy died on 9th of July.

• 21st of July. Professor Chazan was dismissed from the Holy Family by the mayor of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz,before any of investigations was completed.

The aftermath

The child was born with severe deformations in Bielany Hospital. The director of the hospital, professor Romuald Dębski, almost immediately became a TV star and was crowned a moral authority by the mainstream media and all pro-choice activists. According to him, “[a doctor not wanting to perform abortion] should engage in ophthalmology or maybe in selling carrots. [In gynaecology] it rather doesn't make sense.

The birth of the boy was widely discusses all over the media world. The mainstream consensus was that letting the baby to be born was immoral and inhuman because of his suffering during his short life. As prof. Chazan pointed out there is a hypocrisy in it: when the premature baby is born doctors do everything they can to limit his or her suffering. Analgesics are given, medical procedures are limited to necessary minimum, appropriate care is provided. When a child is to be aborted no such precaution is ever considered.

The media campaign was unofficially but strongly supported by the government institutions. The mayor of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz publicly accused prof. Chazan of many misconducts and announced his dismissal which happened about two week later, before any of the investigations, including those ordered by herself, was completed.

The preliminary reports from investigations were made publicly available, which, according to Ordo Iuris, Institute for Law Culture, “is not only a breach of medical confidentiality but also may be qualified as a criminal offence from art. 266 of the Penal Code”.

Minister for health, dr Bartosz Arłukowicz said, “I will not allow God's law to prevail over human law. The church is for professing the faith, the hospital is for treating people. (…) Encyclical at home, encyclopedia at work”.

Professor Bogdan Chazan received a notice of dismissal on 21st of July 2014. Two days later the first baby died of abortion at Holy Family Hospital.

 

My daughter had too many defects to be born. In another hospital the doctor said he would clean it up for me. I escaped from there and went here [to the Holy Family Hospital]. Professor Chazan gave me a good prenatal and psychological care (…). I gave birth and buried my child (...). Now I can go to the cemetery and light the candle on my daughter's grave. I know I accomplished that thanks to professor Chazan.

K. M., one of Prof. Chazan's former patients.

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