European Commission’s directive mandating that the ellaOne morning-after pill be made available over the counter in all EU member states cannot be followed in Poland because it violates the Criminal Code, Poland’s bishops have warned.
The statement prepared by the Polish Episcopate’s Bioethics Panel of Experts points out that there are “several fundamental distortions” about both the function of the drug and the legality of the EU directive.
The directive authorizes the prescription-free sale of ellaOne, a pill containing the drug ulipristal acetate. The pill is marketed as an emergency contraceptive, but can also act as an abortifacient. It currently requires a doctor’s prescription in Germany, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, and Greece.
The bishops’ statement explains that the drug has “a dual mechanism” in that it is “similar to the formulation used in medical abortion (mifepristone), which modifies the functions of the progesterone receptor … resulting in the expulsion of the human embryo from the mother and his death,” which is effectively an abortion rather than contraception.
“Secondly, of course, is a potential blocking of ovulation. Both mechanisms destroy the physiological processes that allow the proper maintenance of the pregnancy or its creation.”
“With regard to the legal aspect,” the bishops state, “it should be emphasized that the assertion of the existence of a Polish obligation [to follow this directive] is completely untrue.”
“It should also be noted that the use of the product, which results in the death of the embryo, can without doubt be considered illegal and punishable behavior in the light of the Polish Criminal Code, and unacceptable in the light of the principle of the protection of human dignity, a declaration of article 30 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, from which act no exceptions are allowed.”