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Polish Abortion Ban Challenged


Religious leaders, women’s rights groups and 150 leaders from 46 countries signed a letter* sent on February 19 to the president of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski, urging him to reconsider reforming the country’s arcane anti-abortion laws. Religious signatories included representatives of the Catholic church as well as of the Muslim, Buddhist, Protestant and Jewish faiths. There were 124 legal abortions in Poland in 2001, but it is estimated that between 800,000 and 200,000 back street abortions were carried out. It is only possible to get a legal abortion if it can be proved before the 12th week that the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or that it could threaten the health or life of the woman, or that the embryo is severely damaged. In spite of the population being mostly Catholic, in a recent poll, 49% of Poles wanted more liberal abortion laws, and only 37% were against any change. Doctors caught performing illegal abortions face prison sentences of up to three years. Women living in poverty, particularly those from rural areas are especially badly affected by this ban, as they are unable to pay for an illegal abortion, and unable to travel abroad for a legal one, which are the choices open to their urban sisters. It is claimed elsewhere that the country’s antique laws on abortion contribute to the high incidence of infanticide and abandoned new born babies in Poland.

This article courtesy of European Social Policy.

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