Are Poland’s already restrictive abortion laws about to get stricter?
Poland is already home to some of the strictest abortion legislation in Europe.
According to Amnesty International, as it currently stands legal abortion is conditional on one of three factors: the foetus was conceived through rape or incest, the mother’s life is in danger or there is severe or fatal foetal impairment.
Even in cases where abortion is legal, there are many societal barriers that women must overcome in order to access treatment. The “conscience clause” for example, permits medical professionals to refuse care based on their own personal or religious beliefs. Furthermore, the sex education provided in Polish schools is far from the international standard, perpetuating damaging gender norms and stereotypes, anti-lgbtq+ and anti-rights narratives.
Plans under the “Stop Abortion” Bill first surfaced in March 2018 and then again in October 2019, and were both met with mass protests. The bill seeks to eliminate one of the existing provisions, making abortion illegal even in the case of severe or fatal foetal impairment.
Human Rights Watch have stated that the Bill was “drafted and backed by right-wing groups, including the conservative, anti-abortion, and anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture”.
But the attempts to further restrict abortion rights in Poland didn’t begin with the 2018 Stop Aboriton Bill. In 2016 protests that became known as the Czarny Protests (Black Protests) and Strajk Kobiet (Women’s Strike) successfully led to the rejection of a bill that proposed a complete ban on abortions throughout Poland.
As a member of the European Union, one would hope that the women of Poland would have their human rights protected, but when it comes to abortion rights there are very few international protections. Poland is one of 6 European countries with highly restrictive abortion laws, alongside Andorra, Malta and San Marino where there is a complete ban on abortion, and Leichtenstien and Monaco, whose laws are similar to that of Poland.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, making abortion illegal does not stop abortions from happening, it simply endangers and criminalizes innocent women who wish to exercise freedom over their own bodies.