By Wanda Franz, Ph.D., President, National Right to Life
On June 20-22, 2004, an international conference was held in Warsaw, Poland, called "Abortion - - Causes, Ramifications, Therapy." It was coordinated by the work of pro-life professionals from around Poland. In addition, co-sponsoring organizations included the Demographic Committee of the Polish Academy of Science, the Ombudsman for Children in Poland, and the Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology.
The chairman of the Scientific Committee was Dr. Bogdan Chazan, an obstetrician and gynecologist from Warsaw. The chairman of the Organizing Committee was Dr. Witold Simon, a psychotherapist from Warsaw. A number of Americans were speakers for the conference and members of the Scientific Committee, including Dr. Joel Brind, Dr. Priscilla Coleman, Dr. Wanda Franz, and Dr. Vincent Rue.
Also speaking at the conference were Karen Cross, executive director of West Virginians for Life and an at-large representative to the NRLC Board of Directors, along with Dr. Catherine Coyle, psychotherapist and president of the International Forgiveness Institute. They joined 25 other Polish and international speakers for a comprehensive coverage of the topic.
The conference came at a critical time for Poland. During the time that Poland was behind the Iron Curtain, abortion was legal and widely encouraged. With the rise of the Solidarity Movement, abortion was made illegal, with no measurable negative effects on women or society.
Unfortunately, since then, there has been a great deal of pressure to liberalize the law.
Today, the law supposedly limits abortion very strictly, but everyone admits there are uncounted thousands of illegal abortions being performed.
Unfortunately, there are also thousands of women in Poland who have had abortions and are suffering from the effects of this terrible decision. For these reasons, the conference was very important and timely.
It was also very successful. Approximately 200 people attended the conference. These people came from the health care professions, including those from the government health programs. There were many young adults in the audience, and we were told that many of them were students, a very hopeful sign.
In addition to giving talks, the American guests appeared on Poland's various media outlets. Karen Cross and Dr. Priscilla Coleman were on a national Polish TV program called Open Door.
The day before the conference began was the last day of the 41st Annual Conference of the Polish Psychiatric Association. At that meeting, one of the sessions was on abortion.
The coordinators of that session were Dr. Witold Simon and Dr. Wanda Franz. Dr. Franz spoke on "Interpersonal Relationships in the Family following Abortion." Dr. Simon spoke on "Therapies for Women Following Abortion." Dr. Coleman spoke on the "Psychological Causes of Abortion." Dr. Rue addressed the issue of "Abortion Trauma." Dr. Brind discussed the "Abortion-Breast Cancer Link" via a videotape presentation, since at the last minute, he was unable to attend the meetings.
We were told that over 4,000 professionals from across Poland attended the annual conference. Our particular symposium attracted 50 individuals. The organizers were pleased with the number.