Polish MPs back even tougher restrictions on abortion

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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: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/11/polish-mps-reject-liberalised-abortion-laws-but-back-new-restrictions

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Polish police raid offices of feminist activists after abortion protests

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Polish police raid offices of feminist activists after abortion protests

'They are afraid of women's protest and want to find out all possible methods to devalue the Polish women's solidarity grassroot solidarity movement,' says leading campaigner

Maya Oppenheim
Oct 7, 2017

Women’s rights groups in Poland have had their documents and computers seized in police raids which took place a day after thousands of activists marched against the country’s restrictive abortion law.

The Women’s Rights Centre, which works on a range of women's issues, and Baba, which helps domestic violence victims, had their offices in the cities of Warsaw, Lodz, Gdansk, and Zielona Gora invaded by police.

Continued at source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/poland-abortion-police-raids-a7987181.html

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Strict law pushes Polish women to have abortions abroad

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Published November 03, 2016 Associated Press

PRENZLAU, Germany – While the streets of Warsaw have been engulfed by vehement protests over the government's plan to further restrict abortion, individual Polish women are struggling daily to find ways of ending their unwanted pregnancies.

Monika, 19, had recently split up with her boyfriend when she realized with horror that she was pregnant. With no partner, no money and years of education ahead, she felt an abortion was her only option. But abortion in Poland is illegal in most cases and even when she tracked down a doctor rumored to bend the rules, he refused.

[continued at link]
Source: Associated Press

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“This victory on abortion has empowered Polish women – we’ll never be the same.” (Krystyna Kacpura, 6 October 2016)

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by Safe Abortion, October 7, 2016

Our congratulations to the women of Poland for the brilliant decision to call a national strike on 3 October, in which between 30,000 and 100,000 people, according to different reports, took to the streets to protest the threatened ban on abortion: the government couldn’t ignore you any longer.

According to Maritime First News, state-run radio in Poland reported that on 4 October Prime Minister Beata Szydlo had distanced the government from the bill because of the strike. They quoted her as saying at a news conference : “I want to state very clearly that the PiS [Law and Justice] government is not working on any legislation changing the rules on abortion in Poland.”

Polish Vice Minister, Jarosław Gowin, a devout Catholic, was also quoted by the BBC as saying on 4 October that the nationwide protest on Monday had given the government “food for thought”. He was also reported as saying that he wanted to calm those afraid that abortion could be completely banned in Poland. However, this is how his statement was reported in English: “Abortion will certainly not be banned when the woman is the victim of rape or if her life or health is in danger” and that the protests around the country had “taught [the government] humility”.

He did not mention what would happen with abortion on grounds of fetal abnormality. Whether that was a significant omission is unclear.

On 5 October in the evening, the committee selected by the Polish lower house of parliament to review the bill voted to reject it. On 6 October, the full lower house of parliament was set to vote on whether to push the bill back to the committee, or drop it completely. This was set to take place just before the European Parliament was due to hold a debate on Polish women’s human rights

Barbara Nowacka, an opposition politician who has been active in the “Black Protest” movement to stop further restrictions on abortion in Poland, asked on Twitter: “Wonder what will happen during the vote in Parliament. Did #BlackProtest scare them or is it just a trick before the European Parliament debate?”

What happened was a decision to reject the bill completely. In the most recent news reports in English, which had stopped by the end of the day on 6 October, the BBC reported that the lower house of the parliament had indeed voted the Stop Abortion bill down by a large majority – 352 to 58. In their report after the vote, the Guardian quotes Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of PiS party, as saying to the parliament: “PiS continues to back the protection of life. And it will continue to take action in this respect, but it will be considered action.”

An excellent commentary in response to all these events by Krystyna Kacpura, Executive Director of the Polish Federation of Women & Family Planning, was also published in the Guardian on 6 October, where she said: “This victory on abortion has empowered Polish women – we’ll never be the same.”

Here is a brilliant set of photographs and quotes of women who went on strike on Monday, 3 October 2016.

Photos by Karol Grygoruk, 4 October 2016 in Vice Poland article including the photo above

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Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion

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Stop this crackdown on abortion in Poland

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by Krystyna Kacpura

As Poland’s rightwing ruling party seeks to tighten an already restrictive abortion law, there is a growing solidarity among women in the struggle for our reproductive rights

Wednesday 21 September 2016 09.00 BST
The Guardian

In my desk drawer, I have the signatures of 1,500 Polish women who support liberalising our country’s abortion law, which bans the procedure except in cases of rape, incest, foetal anomalies, or when the pregnant woman’s life is in danger. The signatures arrived too late – the day after our petition to support a more liberal law was due to be delivered to the Sejm, the lower house of parliament, but I won’t throw them out. I know what they represent – the growing solidarity among Polish women (and many men) in the struggle for our reproductive rights, a struggle once left to feminist groups working at society’s margins.

No longer. On Wednesday our fight will come up against another draft law – the “Stop Abortion” law – which has been put forward by the ruling Law and Justice party. Supported by the Catholic church, it would ban abortion in all circumstances except to protect the life of the pregnant woman.

[continued at link]
Source: The Guardian

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Thousands protest against proposed stricter abortion law in Poland

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By Robert Tait, The Guardian
Sunday 18 September 2016 16.44 BST

Women’s groups and human rights campaigners in Poland have staged protests against a proposed new law that would criminalise nearly all abortions.

Thousands gathered outside the national parliament in Warsaw while there were demonstrations in several other Polish cities – and a separate event outside the Polish embassy in London – to oppose a measure that would outlaw terminating pregnancies except where necessary to save a woman’s life.

Poland, Europe’s most devoutly Catholic country, already has some of the continent’s most stringently anti-abortion statutes.

Legislators are expected to start debating on Wednesday even tougher rules drawn up by a rightwing thinktank with the backing of the Catholic church and the Law and Justice (PiS) governing party. A petition supporting the crackdown has gained more than 100,000 signatures.
Poland's rule of law under systematic threat, says EU executive
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If passed, the legislation would introduce jail sentences of up to five years for causing “the death of a conceived child”. It would apply both to women seeking abortions and doctors and health professional carrying them out.

Gathering under the slogan “Save women, not a step further”, opponents argued that the change would risk the lives of women and force girls as young as 11 who had been raped or subjected to incest either to give birth or face going to jail.

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Source: The Guardian

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This Polish Law Would Imprison Women Who Have Abortions

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By Anna Błuś, Motto.time.com
Sept 16, 2016

A girl raped by her own father will have no choice but to give birth. A woman at high risk of dying in childbirth or of carrying a dead baby will not be able to seek a termination. This will be the impact of new legislation to be debated in the Polish Parliament later this week which, if passed, would usher in an almost complete ban on abortion.

On Sunday in Warsaw, London and other cities, protesters will gather opposing the amendment to Poland’s existing abortion legislation. The amendment aims to criminalize women and girls who have sought or had an abortion, making them liable to a prison term of between three months and five years. It also will increase the maximum jail term for anyone who assists or encourages women have an abortion.

[continued at link]
Source: Motto.time.com

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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)

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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.

Source: Inquirer.net

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