HomeoldWarsaw hospital head sacked for refusing to refer for abortion

Warsaw hospital head sacked for refusing to refer for abortion

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The director of a hospital in Warsaw has been dismissed because he refused to refer a woman for an abortion. The case has become a cause celebre in Poland, leading to protests from the Catholic clergy and internet petitions.

Dr Bogdan Chazan was approached in April by a woman who wanted an abortion because the baby she was carrying was badly deformed. He refused, citing “a conflict of conscience” and instead of referring her to another doctor who would do the abortion, he suggested that the child be cared for in a hospice when it was born.

As a result Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, the mayor of Warsaw, fired Dr. Chazan last month. She said that he did not have the right to refuse to refer and that he had not informed the woman about her options for getting a termination. Under Polish law, abortions can be performed until the 25th week of pregnancy if the life of the mother or child is at risk, or in cases of incest or rape.

“Today’s decision is the start of an attack on the conscience of doctors and people in management positions in the health service, it is a violation of their conscience,” Prof. Chazan told the media. “Abiding by the laws of nature, and first and foremost by the law that prohibits killing a person, will probably become a reason for eliminating these people from management positions.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at bioedge.org

The dismissal of the head of a Warsaw hospital for refusing to refer patients for abortion underscores the contentious nature of reproductive rights and the ethical dilemmas faced by healthcare professionals in navigating these issues. In many countries, including Poland, abortion remains a highly polarizing and legally restricted procedure, with access often subject to strict regulations and moral debates.

The decision to terminate the hospital head’s employment reflects a clash between the individual’s conscientious objection to participating in abortion-related activities and the broader legal and ethical obligations of healthcare providers to ensure access to lawful medical services. While healthcare professionals have the right to conscientiously object to procedures that conflict with their beliefs, they also have a duty to provide patients with accurate information and appropriate referrals to access the care they need.

In cases where abortion is legal and accessible, healthcare providers may face challenges in balancing their personal convictions with their professional responsibilities. Refusal to refer patients for abortion services can pose significant barriers to access, particularly for individuals facing urgent or time-sensitive medical situations. It raises concerns about patient autonomy, equitable access to healthcare, and the potential for discrimination or harm.

At the same time, the dismissal of the hospital head highlights broader debates about the role of conscience in healthcare and the need for clear guidelines and policies to address conflicts of interest or values within the profession. Healthcare institutions may need to establish protocols for managing conscientious objections while ensuring that patients’ rights to access lawful medical services are upheld and protected.

Ultimately, the case underscores the importance of promoting open dialogue, mutual respect, and ethical decision-making in the provision of healthcare services. By engaging in constructive discussions and seeking common ground, healthcare providers, policymakers, and ethicists can work towards solutions that uphold both the rights of individuals to follow their conscience and the rights of patients to receive timely, compassionate, and appropriate medical care.


Chelsea Garcia is a political writer with a special interest in international relations and social issues. Events surrounding the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel are a major focus for political journalists. But as a former local reporter, she is also interested in national politics.

Chelsea Garcia studied media, communication and political science in Texas, USA, and learned the journalistic trade during an internship at a daily newspaper. In addition to her political writing, she is pursuing a master's degree in multimedia and writing at Texas.

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