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Catholic Leader Gives Statement on Rejected Abortion Bill in Polish Parliament

August 31, 2011

The following statement may be attributed to Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice.

Today Poland dodged the bullet of a draconian abortion law that would have dragged Polish women even further into the dark ages. The bill was rejected by 191 parliamentarians to 186 who voted for the ban. Sadly, it is likely that the proposal will resurface again and again.

Poland has been keeping its eyes closed to the abortion issue as if that would make it go away. The continuing high abortion rate since access was curtailed in 1993 proves something else: making abortion all but impossible doesn’t make it go away within the country’s boundaries, or stop some women making clandestine journeys to obtain abortion in other countries. The across-the-board ban—should it come before parliament again in the future—would push abortion under the carpet just as successfully as in Ireland, where abortion is an open secret that most choose to ignore.

Forcing women to seek abortions in the shadows sets up a dangerous hypocrisy: that it is possible to be “prolife” while disregarding the realities Polish women face. Pretending they don’t exist means a whole country turns its back on those who undergo the procedure in other countries, without the benefit of practitioners who speak their language and with no support from family and friends. Poles should care for one another. Having family and friends around you when you are in a difficult situation is the very meaning of community. And being unable to find help and understanding from those around you is a form of exile.