Adam Mickiewicz University Rector, Professor Bogumiła Kaniewska and the AMU Senate, have released two statements on currents events in Poland, regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent ruling of the Constitutional Court, banning the termination of pregnancy in cases of lethal foetal defects, which has been legal since 1993. Once the decision comes into effect, pregnancy terminations will only be allowed in cases of rape or incest, or if the mother’s health is at risk. This has sparked nationwide protests in the streets of many Polish cities.
Lethal defects are severe developmental disorders that directly or indirectly lead to the death of the fetus or a newborn. They may be caused by genetic or non-genetic factors. They are characterized by impaired fetal development, which results in the inability to carry a pregnancy or death shortly after birth.
Dear AMU employees, PhD candidates and students, friends and colleagues,
The last week of October has brought us many worrying events: the number of staff infected at our University is rising (as I write these words, we have recorded 41 cases among our employees from various divisions of Adam Mickiewicz University) and, along with the growing epidemiological threat, we are facing further restrictions.
I am therefore once again appealing to all of you to follow all public health recommendations and for us all to respect and support one another as we work to get through this difficult period.
Unfortunately, the pandemic is not the only cause of social concern. The recent ruling of the Constitutional Court limiting women’s rights and wrecking the social compromise on abortion has sparked numerous protests, which are being organised all across the country. This decision, which affects a large part of society, was reached without prior public debate, without concern for the consequences, and without the respect for human rights required in a democratic state.
The right to life is the ultimate right. It also encompasses the right to health, to freedom from suffering, and to medical care. The ruling of the Constitutional Court deprives Polish women, but also their unborn children with lethal foetal defects, of these rights. Not only will they be cruelly touched by fate, but will also suffer from the cruelty of this new callous ruling.
Moreover, it deprives women of the right to choose and to make decisions about their own lives. The ruling is also a blow to the development of science, as it questions the legitimacy of prenatal research that serves the purpose of life, providing early medical intervention in cases where such treatment is possible.
Finally, the ruling is an instrument for further drastic social divisions.
Do I have the right to express my personal opinion on this matter as Rector of a public university? I believe that the entire academic community has the right to know what I stand for, even if not everyone shares my view. I cannot fail to react to an attempt to create a “hell for women”, constraining them, depriving them of the right to make choices regarding their health and life.
As Judge Leon Kieres wrote in his dissenting opinion to the Constitutional Court’s ruling: “The role of a state that recognizes human agency is to leave decisions on morally, legally and constitutionally ambiguous issues to those directly affected”.
I hope that the voices of women and men representing various generations and beliefs will be heard loud enough today to encourage reflection and dialogue among those who discharge the function of government.
Professor Bogumiła Kaniewska
Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań
Statement of the Senate of the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, October 26th, 2020
The Senate of Adam Mickiewicz University expresses its concern about the recent events sparked by the controversial ruling of the Constitutional Tribunal made during the pandemic. A large part of society, including many among the academic community of Adam Mickiewicz University, see this ruling as lacking respect for civil liberties and rights. The determination of people manifesting in the current protests is therefore, understandable.
It should be emphasized that in a democratic state such as the Republic of Poland, the right to express one’s opinions and views, also by protesting, is one of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. The use of coercive measures against those who want to exercise this right is unacceptable and is additionally not conducive to resolving the issue at stake.
The AMU Senate appeals to everyone for prudence and calls on the state authorities to expedite a solution in the spirit of social dialogue and respect for human rights.
President of the AMU Senate
Prof. Bogumiła Kaniewska
Rector of Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań
fot. Maciej Nowaczyk / UAM