More than 1,200 people staged a march in Warsaw on Sunday to support abortion rights and try to stop a change to Poland's Constitution.Then, Polish politicians are criticized and even reprimended for voicing what used to be a statement of fact.
The marchers called for changes to Poland's restrictive abortion laws. They are also opposed to a proposed amendment which would place the words "right to life from the moment of conception" in the Constitution.
Abortion is only allowed in Poland in cases of rape, incest, danger to the mother's life or irreversible malformation of the fetus. Breaking the law carries a two-year jail term.
Last week, a Parliamentary commission came out in favor of a proposal by the ultra-Catholic League of Polish Families (LPR) to have "right to life from the moment of conception" written into the Constitution, which would prevent any liberalization of the abortion law in the future.
Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski gave deputy PM and leader of the junior coalition partner LPR Roman Giertych a public reprimand on Monday for Giertych's comments on abortion and homosexuality while on an official visit to Germany.
In Heidelburg, Giertych, who is also Education Minister, said that abortion should be banned in Europe and railed against "homosexual propaganda."
PM Kaczynski said that Giertych "went too far" and was given a reprimand for representing his own views as the position of the Polish Government.
Almost 18 years after Poland broke away from Soviet domination, the country's ruling Kaczynski twins are clamping down on former communists, who they say have too much influence on Polish society.
Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, 57, is preparing a bill that would make public the names of people who spied for the secret services. His brother Lech Kaczynski, Poland's president, has signed a law that will ban people who collaborated with the secret services from working as judges or taking top positions in state-owned companies.
The Kaczynskis say Poland needs these laws to complete its transition to democratic government. Critics say the brothers are conducting a witch hunt to deflect attention from more important issues such as Poland's unemployment rate, the highest in the European Union.
The Polish government is to ban discussions on homosexuality in schools and educational institutions across the country, with teachers facing the sack, fines or imprisonment.
Poland's education minister, Roman Giertych, has said he hopes to introduce a similar ban across the entire EU.
Mr Giertych, the leader of the ultra-conservative League of Polish Families, a junior coalition partner in the government of prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said the aim of the proposed law would be to "prohibit the promotion of homosexuality and other deviance".
The EU's statistical office, Eurostat, is reporting that Poland has the lowest birthrate of the 27 countries in the EU.
In 2005, the Polish birthrate was 1.24 children per woman. The EU average is 1.51 children. To replace the current population, women need to give birth to about 2.1 children. In other words, population growth throughout Europe is negative. Only immigration prevents populations from declining more.
Low birthrates are a more acute problem in Eastern Europe - Slovakia (1.25 children), Slovenia (1.26 children), Czech Republic (1.28 children) - than in Western Europe where Ireland and France have higher birthrates - 1.88 and 1.92, respectively.
Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski proposed a costly new program of tax exemptions and benefits for working mothers aimed at increasing Poland's birth rate, which is the lowest in Europe, by 2014.
"This is a pro-birth policy intended to ensure that we continue on as a nation," Kaczynski said at a news conference.
He acknowledged that it is a "costly policy."
The total cost of the Government's pro-family program will stand at PLN 17.38 bln in 2008-2014, the Labour Ministry informed on its website www.rodzina.gov.pl.
The costs: in 2008 - PLN 964 mln, in 2009 - PLN 1.13 bln, in 2010 - PLN 2.13 bln, PLN 2.44 bln in 2011, PLN 3.26 bln in 2012, PLN 3.32 bln in 2013, and PLN 4.14 bln in 2014.
About PLN 8.73 bln of the total program cost will be related to tax breaks for taxpayers with children.
The cost of tje prolongation of maternity leave will be growing gradually from PLN 150 mln annually in 2008 to PLN 600 mln in 2014. The total cost in 2008-2014 will stand at PLN 2.4 bln.
Exemptions from Labour Fund premium payments will cost PLN 3.81 bln in 2008-2014, with cost growing from PLN 170 mln in 2008 to PLN 720 mln in 2014.
Other costs related to pension and disability premiums will stand at PLN 1.85 bln by 2014, with the cost growing from PLN 74 mln annually in 2008 to PLN 432 mln in 2014.
Other minor sections of the program will cost some PLN 588 mln by 2014.
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