WARSAW, Poland – Polish lawmakers approved a plan Friday to pay a bonus to families whose child is born disabled - part of a policy aimed at curbing the number of abortions.
The "For Life" plan, which is expected to take effect next year, gives a one-time payment of 4,000 zlotys ($1,000) upon the birth of a disabled child or one with a life-threatening disease.
Government official Elzbieta Witek said the money is intended as the "first step" of government support for families with disabled children. Such families have long been demanding higher aid, which currently stands at 1,300 zlotys a month for a parent taking care of the child full-time.
The conservative Law and Justice government, backed by the Catholic church, is seeking to ban abortions of deformed or sick fetuses, or even those with no chance of survival, to make possible their baptism and burial.
Polish law now bans abortions except in cases when the woman's life or health is threatened, when the pregnancy results from rape or incest or when the fetus is irreparably damaged. But amid the threat of prison terms, doctors often refuse to perform even admissible abortions.
Government figures say 1,040 abortions were performed in Poland last year, while experts say some 150,000 abortions a year are done illegally and secretly. The government says most of the legal abortions are performed on fetuses with genetic defects like Down syndrome and wants that stopped.
The parliament, dominated by the ruling party, voted 267-140 in favor of the plan with 21 abstentions. President Andrzej Duda, who is aligned with the government, is expected to sign it into law.