Citizen initiatives on abortion and sex education debated in Parliament

Citizen initiatives on abortion and sex education debated in Parliament


Two citizen initiatives, on abortion and sex education were debated in Parliament on Wednesday. Both were submitted by conservative pro-life and pro-family groups and both attracted the statutory number of signatures (100,000) needed for such initaitives to be debated. The proposals are supported by the Catholic Church.

Similar proposals in the past have led to sizable street protests. However, the current Coronavirus restrictions on public assembly have led to the protests being conducted online, in cars and from balconies of apartments.


Poland’s election features a confident right-wing ruling party despite abortion, LGBT debates

Poland's election features a confident right-wing ruling party despite abortion, LGBT debates
Political opposition is fractured, while strong church influence dominates campaign

Sarah Lawrynuik · CBC News
Posted: Oct 06, 2019

Poles will cast their ballots in the national parliamentary election next Sunday, and the world is watching to see if they will deliver another decisive victory for the populist, right-wing Law and Justice Party.

Law and Justice formed Poland's first outright majority government in 2015 since the fall of communism. In the ensuing years, Poland has been seen to be following in the political footsteps of fellow-EU member state Hungary, in a turn toward conservative policies, control of the media and breaking down some of the country's checks and balances on power.


Canada/USA – The female game designers fighting back on abortion rights

The female game designers fighting back on abortion rights
Through video games, live-action role-playing games and interactive documentaries, developers are challenging the conversation around reproductive rights

Laura Hudson
Fri 28 Jun 2019

The year is 1972. You’re part of an underground network of feminists in Chicago that provide illegal (at the time) abortion services to vulnerable, pregnant people with few options. Despite the risk of imprisonment, and the ways that your personal experiences may not always perfectly align with your activism, you persist.

It’s emotionally complicated. It’s politically fraught. It’s a live-action roleplaying game by Jon Cole and Kelley Vanda called The Abortionists, which requires three players, one facilitator, six hours and a willingness to dig deep into the painful history of reproductive rights in the United States. That history has terrifying relevance in 2019, as numerous states pass laws that put their residents in a reality where abortion is functionally illegal. Based on the real-life work of a 1970s activist group called Jane, it challenges its participants to think about the “internal landscapes” of its players, and how they deal with the larger political and personal landscape of their world.


Poland’s conservatives are pushing one of Europe’s toughest abortion laws

Poland’s conservatives are pushing one of Europe’s toughest abortion laws
The bill would force women to give birth even in cases of severe birth defects

Apr 5th 2018

AT 13 weeks of pregnancy, Marta, a young woman in Warsaw, learned that her baby had Down’s syndrome and life-threatening defects. After a procedural obstacle course (including a visit to a psychiatrist), she was allowed to undergo a legal abortion, one of just 1,000 or so in Poland every year. Poland has some of Europe’s tightest restrictions on abortion, allowing it only when the mother’s life is at risk, or in cases of rape or severe prenatal defects. Many women turn to illegal abortions or go abroad, often to Germany.

Now the restrictions could get even tighter. Legislation proposed by a pro-life organisation, backed by the Catholic church, would ban abortion even for severe prenatal defects. The Polish parliament’s committee for human rights gave the bill the go-ahead last month, although the Council of Europe and UN experts have urged lawmakers to reject it.


Polish Women Protest Proposed Abortion Ban (Again)

Polish Women Protest Proposed Abortion Ban (Again)

MARCH 23, 2018

WARSAW — To Magda, giving birth would have meant inflicting a slow death. Her unborn child had a rare genetic syndrome that causes severe, fatal birth defects.

“I would feed it, hug it, love it, get attached to it, and then, when it would be 3 or 4 months old, it would suffocate while in my arms,” she recalled, explaining her decision a decade ago to have an abortion. “It would scar me for life. I don’t know if I would be capable of giving birth to another child and not look at it as if it were the one that had died in my arms.”


Polish MPs back even tougher restrictions on abortion

Polish MPs back even tougher restrictions on abortion
If enacted, the ‘stop abortion’ bill would outlaw terminations carried out because of a congenital disorder of the foetus

Christian Davies in Warsaw
Thu 11 Jan ‘18

The Polish parliament has rejected proposed legislation to liberalise abortion laws, voting instead to pass proposals for tough new restrictions to a parliamentary committee for further scrutiny.

Poland already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, with terminations permitted only when the life of the foetus is under threat, when there is a grave threat to the health of the mother, or if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

Continued at source:

How Poland’s far-right government is pushing abortion underground

How Poland’s far-right government is pushing abortion underground
A year ago, mass protests in Poland defeated a new abortion ban. But the ruling party, supported by the church, continues to cut reproductive rights – leaving people at the mercy of the black market.

By Alex Cocotas
Thursday 30 November 2017

Barbara Nowacka first had an inkling that something exceptional was happening on the morning of the protests. It was October 2016, and a journalist she knew, a conservative, called to ask how it was looking. She told him she had no idea what was going to happen. The journalist told her that his two daughters had gone to school that morning dressed in black. Perhaps, Nowacka thought, this could be big.

A ban on abortion in Poland had been put forward in parliament six months earlier, and Nowacka, a leftwing politician and long-time social activist, was a leading figure in the movement to oppose it. Nationwide protests had been scheduled for 3 October, but like most people, she had little hope that they would succeed. Perhaps they would get a nice crowd, a little media coverage; but it would ultimately be a gesture. The law would pass.

continued at source:

Polish party chief: Women should give birth even to deformed babies

12.10.2016 16:53

The head of Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party has voiced opposition to a total ban on abortion, but said he is in favour of women giving birth even to deformed children, so such babies can be baptised.

PiS chief Jarosław Kaczyński was speaking in an interview with the PAP news agency published on Wednesday.

His comments came a week after the Polish parliament decided to reject a controversial citizens’ bill aiming to totally ban abortions that has triggered street protests.

[continued at link]
Source: Radio Poland

Poland’s proposed ban on abortion part of broader push to turn back history

Recent attempt to curb reproductive rights fits with conservative, autocratic agenda of ruling party

By Don Murray, CBC News Posted: Oct 04, 2016 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Oct 04, 2016 10:46 AM ET

In Poland, a country of almost 39 million people, the law on abortions is so strict that there were only 1,000 legal terminations last year. And now, the government is considering making it even stricter.

The governing Law and Justice party, led by conservative politician Jaroslaw Kaczynski, is considering a bill that would outlaw all abortions. All of them.

Millions of women are furious. They want the existing law relaxed, or at the very least, untouched. They've held large demonstrations — taking to the streets by the thousands on Monday in a national strike to protest the total ban on abortion.

[continued at link]

A divided Poland mulls total abortion ban

Pro-choice campaigners protest during a march against proposed changes to Poland’s abortion law in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 18, 2016. (AP Photo /Czarek Sokolowski)

Agence France-Presse
01:16 PM July 3rd, 2016

PRENZLAU, Germany—A 35-year-old woman rests on her hospital bed in Germany after an abortion. Her staunchly Catholic country, Poland, has one of Europe’s most restrictive termination laws, so she and her partner drove just over the border.

“We told no one. Because I know it’s forbidden, because I was afraid, even of people’s reactions,” said the mother-of-one who wished to remain anonymous.

Now Poland is mulling a near-total ban, even as tens of thousands of women opt for sometimes risky illegal abortions or, if they can afford it, travel to foreign hospitals like this one in the town of Prenzlau.

When the woman and her partner learnt they were having twins, they were overjoyed. Then there were complications. One died. Doctors could not say for sure if the other would be healthy.

“It’s a hard decision for everyone, traumatic. I simply had really bad test results,” the woman, a lapsed Catholic, told AFP.

Passed in 1993, the current legislation bans all terminations unless there was rape or incest, the pregnancy poses a health risk to the mother or the foetus is severely deformed.

This week, anti-abortion activists plan to submit a petition to parliament, controlled by conservatives since November, that would allow abortion only if the mother’s life is at risk.

Such citizen’s initiatives are admissible with at least 100,000 signatures—this one has garnered more than 375,000—and usually end up in a parliamentary vote.

The initiative calls for increasing the maximum jail penalty for practitioners from two years to five. It also makes mothers liable, though judges could waive punishment in their case.

Abortion “is just as wrong as allowing the murder of any other group of people,” said Mariusz Dzierzawski, 60, head of the pro-life group behind the project.

“It’s like how the Germans said it was okay to murder Jews. And children before birth are an even broader category,” the father of three adult daughters told AFP.

Hot button issue

The proposal has also won the backing of top bishops, though its provisions to penalise women have since divided the Church.

The leader of the governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said, “On these kinds of issues, as a Catholic I follow the teaching of the bishops.”

But as a lifelong bachelor, he was quickly challenged by former first lady and mother-of-eight Danuta Walesa: “What do you know about the life of bees since you don’t live in a beehive?”

The proposal, which the Council of Europe called “serious backsliding on women’s rights,” also inspired several pro-choice marches and a rival drive to liberalise the law.

There are signs the conservatives are aware the hot button issue divides Poles. Dzierzawski said PiS politicians initially tried to talk him out of presenting the initiative.

One 53-year-old Warsaw woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP she got pregnant at 21 and panicked.

“I was trying to get into college. I thought everything was falling apart. All my plans…,” she said.

She chose to abort, against her boyfriend’s wishes. They wound up marrying and having two children before he left. She blames the abortion.

“When I think about grandkids, then I remember what happened. That there could have been more kids,” she said. “It’s starting to eat away at me, oppress me. And it will be like that for the rest of my life.”

Arguing that restricted access gives women a chance to think twice, she backs the status quo.

As do most Poles, according to an April survey from independent pollsters CBOS, which saw support for the exceptions range from 58 percent (incest) to 84 percent (risk to mother’s life).

Only a little over 10 percent said a woman should be allowed to abort if she is in financial straits or does not want children.

Doctors afraid

Yet another CBOS survey from 2013 found that every third or fourth Polish woman has had an abortion.

“It’s do as I say, not as I do,” said Krystyna Kacpura, director of the pro-choice Federation for Women and Family Planning.

The country of 38 million people sees under 2,000 legal abortions a year, but Kacpura estimates that another 100,000-150,000 procedures are performed illegally or abroad.

One Slovak clinic even has a Polish-language website and phone line, plus drivers who will pick women up at designated spots in several Polish cities.

The public hospital in Prenzlau does “quite a few” Polish surgical abortions, according to Janusz Rudzinski, a Polish doctor there who has lived in Germany for decades.

“They’re mostly middle-class, but actresses also come, famous too. Politicians’ wives, bank directors,” he told AFP, saying he has even had the occasional nun or priest plus girlfriend.

For those who stay home, there are Internet offers of pills that “induce menstruation” or doctors like an anaesthesiologist arrested last month for performing a medical abortion on the sly.

Other doctors have signed a conscience clause, opting out of performing abortions, even the legal ones. The southern Podkarpackie region made headlines when every doctor signed.

Rudzinski said he gets around 50 calls a day from Poland, not always for appointments. Many women just need an ear.

“In Poland, they simply don’t have anyone they can honestly talk to right now,” he said.