Decoding Poland: could abortion be banned completely in the future?
Written by Eliska Kacerova on 30 avril 2020
The debate that has been causing so much controversy: the strict abortion laws in Poland. The ruling conservative party Law and Justice (PiS) attempted to tighten what were already very strict abortion rules in the past, but due to large public protests was unable to do so. But recently, the draft legislation has resurfaced and aims to ban abortion in instances in which the foetus is irreversibly damaged. Currently, 90% of legal abortions in the country are because of this. To discuss the future of abortion in Poland, Urszula Grycuk from the Polish Organization Federation for Women and Family Planning is with us today.
What happened to the draft legislation? What could be its possible outcome?
“The bill was sent to the parliamentary commission for further debate. What does it mean? It means that they will go on with processing the bill and they will do further reading. However we do not know when that is going to happen. So in a way this is just keeping women in constant suspense, creating huge fear among them and I think that we can never be sure what will be the outcome. Because now it’s not a good moment for the ruling party to go on with such a controversial bill, especially when we have presidential election coming up in May. Unfortunately, if the election does take place under the special circumstances due to coronavirus, it is very likely that the candidate of the ruling party Law and Justice will win. There is no doubt that he will then support the bill later. Right now the ruling party is trying to please the electorate with different views on abortion, those who support it and those who want liberalization. When the ruling party wins, they will not have to please anyone and they might proceed with the bill. That’s the fear.
This bill on abortion has been sent for further reading in 2017, it came back, as well as the bill trying to can sexual education. The legislative process of these bills is quite long but it looks like they will be adopted in the end.“
Why does polish society have such strict views on abortion in the first place?
“This might just be the reflection of the opinion of the government and of the right, fundamentalist movement in Poland. We have very strong ultra-conservative activists at the moment who are demonstrating their opposition views on abortion. But at the same time, the Poles are showing growing support for abortion and for access, even limited access, to abortion. This bill that is in parliament right now does not reflect society. Even the ruling party electorate is in 42% for the liberalization of the law on abortion. That’s why the ruling party is quite reluctant to really go on with proceeding with the bill. So it’s not quite true to say that the Polish society is against abortion. Of course, many people are still against it but at the same time there is a growing number of supporters for the liberalization of the law.”
Is the European community interested in the abortion situation in Poland?
“Actually, the Polish associations who are fighting for abortion rights like us, we are receiving huge support from international community. We received the support from 170 signatures from Members of European parliament and national parliament, we received support from the commissioner for the human rights in the Council of Europe. We received very positive press release from the special procedures of the UN. So we have lots of sign of support from European and international community and NGOs. They are stating, repeating, that Poland is violating the international law and the polish authority is aware of that. We have three judgments on the reproductive rights of Polish women that clearly say that these rights are not respected in the Polish government. So the authorities know that they are in breach of international law. It’s just that they don’t really care so much about it. So in the international field we do not feel isolated in our fight for the right to abortion, we have all the support on our side. However on the national ground it becomes more complicated, because there are not so many supporters in the conservative government at the moment.“