Abortion Ban Legislation May Reach Polish Parliament
According to a post by the Astra Network of prochoice NGOs in Eastern Europe, the “Stop Abortion” civic committee has instigated a bill that would amount to a complete ban on abortion in Poland. In addition, it would create a new statute in the criminal code, “prenatal murder,” which could impose a 3 to 5 year sentence on women who have an abortion, as well as doctors and anyone who assists them. According to Newsweek, the movement is also working to end state-supported IVF and make emergency contraception prescription-only.
Both Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and her Law and Justice (PiS) party have expressed support for the bill. Vatican Radio explained that the proposal needs 100,000 signatures to be debated before the Sejm—the Polish Parliament.
Poland’s current law, one of the most restrictive in Europe, only allows abortion in the case of rape or incest, or where there is a serious health risk to the woman or fetus. This access is further limited by widespread conscientious objection by providers, Human Rights Watch reports. The Federation for Women and Family Planning has stated that approximately 150,000 Polish women travel abroad each year for an abortion.
According to the Wall Street Journal, an open letter from the bishops in support of the ban, stating, “One needs to protect every person’s life from conception to natural death,” was read in churches on April 3. Some women walked out during the reading of the letter, the Guardian (US) reported, and then thousands protested the ban in front of the Sejm. AFP reports stated that a recent poll found that 51 percent of Poles want a more liberal abortion law.