CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION OF LIFE: AN ATTEMPT TO ASSESS THE PROPOSAL FOR AMENDMENT OF POLAND'S CONSTITUTION (Wokól konstytucyjnej ochrony zycia. Próba oceny propozycji nowelizacji Konstytucji RP)
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This article first of all attempts to assess the proposals of 2006-2007 to amend Poland's Constitution, aimed mostly at strengthening constitutional protection of unborn human life. Parliamentary work on this proposal begins with the submission of the Deputy's bill on amendment of the Constitution, published in the Sejm Paper No. 993 of September 5, 2006, and ends with a series of votes at the 39th sitting of the Sejm of the fifth term of office, held on April 13, 2007, on which it was decided not to adopt any amendment. In the course of the legislative process, several modification were offered not only to Article 38 concerning protection of life, but also to Article 30 dealing with dignity as a source of rights. Each of these proposals had drawbacks, including inter alia: the lack of a definite period of protection or entitlement to dignity, resulting in the decreased protection in relation to issues concerning euthanasia; the application of new categories granting a specific status to unborn human life; specifying the standards for protection by means of legislative acts ranking lower than a constitution, resulting in the transfer of life protection into the sphere of regulation of ordinary legislation. The most conducive for strengthening of the protection of unborn human life, even if not free of imperfections, was an amendment of Article 30 proposed by the Committee in the following wording: 'The inherent and inalienable dignity, conferred on the person from the moment of conception, shall be a source of freedoms and rights of persons and citizens. It shall be inviolable; the respect and protection thereof shall be the obligation of public authorities'. From the rejection of the proposals it is difficult to draw conclusions that are vital for interpretation of the existing provisions. However, a conclusion that the intention of the authors of the constitution was not to strengthen the constitutional protection of life is not legitimate, mostly because of their doubts about formal correctness of the proposed amendments (when deciding to reject them), particularly the doubts about legal consequences of their adoption.
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