The PiS, the Catholic Church, and the Denial of Basic Human Rights
By Enora Lauvau
On Feb 21, 2021
The McGill International Review
Known to be a conservative Roman Catholic nation, Poland has long been home to fierce debate over abortion rights, with the two opposing sides consisting of traditionalists and those advocating a more progressive agenda. Tensions reached an all-time high last October, as the country’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled to further increase the restrictions on legal abortions. Already, Poland had some of the most stringent abortion laws in Europe, with abortion been legal in only three cases: fetal abnormalities, a direct threat to the woman’s health, and rape or incest. In a decision made on October 22, 2020, however, the court declared abortions in the case of congenital defects illegal, on the basis that the Polish Constitution protects human life. Considering that out of the mere 1,100 abortions that legally occurred in Poland last year, 98 per cent of them were for this reason, such a decision essentially ensures that those seeking abortions will either be forced to leave the country or perform them at home, both of which will put their health at risk and leave them vulnerable to legal prosecution. Already, women’s rights groups estimate that between 80,000 to 150,000 citizens get abortions outside of Poland’s health system each year.
By Valérie Gauriat
In front of one of Warsaw's main hospitals, an ominous van is parked. Its sides are covered in an image of what is allegedly a dead fetus. It's a message from anti-abortion groups to one of the capital’s few facilities that still perform pregnancy terminations.
A recent ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal has just toughened one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Terminations in Poland were once only allowed in cases of rape, incest, danger to the mother's health or life, serious defects of the fetus or incurable disease. The new amendments mean that last option is now prohibited.
by VANESSA GERA, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Posted Feb 9, 2021
WARSAW, Poland — Most European Parliament lawmakers on Tuesday lashed out at Poland’s near-total abortion ban Tuesday, with several lawmakers arguing it was a fundamental violation of women’s rights.
Even though some praised authorities in Warsaw for what they called a defence of Christian values and human life, many in the major political groups were critical of the measure in the staunchly Roman Catholic nation.
Polish women’s rights activists and left-wing lawmakers have presented a plan to collect signatures in support of a proposal to legalize abortion in the predominantly Catholic country
By VANESSA GERA, Associated Press
3 February 2021
WARSAW, Poland -- Polish women's rights organizations and left-wing lawmakers presented a plan Wednesday to collect signatures in support of a proposal to legalize abortion in the predominantly Catholic country.
The initiative comes in reaction to the recent imposition of a near-total ban on abortion in Poland. The country's constitutional court ruled in October that abortions of fetuses with congenital defects were illegal. The decision triggered the largest mass protest movement in Poland's post-communist era, and the new restriction took effect last week.
Activists in Poland are declaring war after a court decided to restrict abortion in cases of fetal abnormalities.
16 Nov 2020
Poland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. So, when a Polish court tried to restrict abortion even further, it led to mass protests – the largest the country has seen since the fall of communism. Members of Poland’s emboldened feminist movement walk us through the protests and tell us what to expect next.
In this episode: Scholar and writer Agnieszka Graff; Gosia Wochowska and Wiktoria Sakowicz of Gals4Gals Lodz; student and activist Kajetan Chlipalski.
Angered and disappointed with the recent anti-abortion court ruling in her home country, a young Polish artist living in the Czech Republic is organising help for her compatriots.
Anja Vladisavljevic, Zagreb
November 9, 2020
“Sadness, big sadness, disappointment… and anger”: that's what a Polish artist residing in the Czech capital, Jolanta Nowaczyk, felt when she learnt last month about the anti-abortion court ruling in her home country.
Soon after the controversial court decision on October 22, which effectively outlaws abortion by banning terminations where the foetus is severely damaged or malformed, Nowaczyk organised a protest in front of the Polish embassy in Prague. But that was not the only action she took: Nowaczyk is now also launching an initiative that aims to help Polish women needing an abortion to come to the Czech Republic for the procedure.
The move came after two weeks of protests that were the most intense in the country since the 1989 collapse of communism.
By Monika Pronczuk
Nov. 4, 2020
BRUSSELS — Poland’s right-wing government has delayed implementation of a court ruling that would impose a near-total ban on abortions after two weeks of the largest protests the country has experienced since the 1989 collapse of communism.
The country already had one of Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws before its Constitutional Tribunal ruled on Oct. 22 that terminating pregnancies for fetal abnormalities — one of three justifications for legal abortions and virtually the only type performed in the country — violated the Constitution.
The decision, which cannot be appealed, halts pregnancy terminations for fetal abnormalities, virtually the only type currently performed in the country.
By Monika Pronczuk
Oct. 22, 2020
A constitutional tribunal in Poland ruled on Thursday that abortions for fetal abnormalities violate the country’s Constitution, effectively imposing a near-total ban in a nation that already had some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe.
The debate over a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy, a divisive issue in a staunchly Roman Catholic country, mirrors the bitter polarization of a society caught between traditional religious values and more liberal ones.
How ‘Essential’ Abortion Services Are Inaccessible in the Lockdown
A 19-year-old rape survivor in Mumbai found out she was pregnant right when India implemented its nationwide lockdown. She knew she had to get an abortion, but with no transport available and with many clinics shutting down their operations, she felt helpless and out of options.
“We went and picked her up and ensured she got the abortion at a public hospital. Forced sex is a critical issue in a lockdown and abortion services are required here and now,” Sangeeta Rege of the Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes (CEHAT), the NGO that intervened and arranged for the girl’s pass and travel, told Reuters.
In Poland, Abortion Access Worsens Amid Pandemic
Abortions were already difficult to obtain and then came the coronavirus.
By Jessica Bateman, Marta Kasztelan
May 1, 2020
The woman was 21 weeks pregnant when she contacted Abortion Without Borders (AWB), a network of activist groups that advises Polish women on how to access safe terminations. Normally, it would have been relatively simple to book a flight to the United Kingdom, where she could legally access a second-trimester abortion. But the coronavirus outbreak changed everything.
“We got her an appointment, but travel was a different matter,” said Mara Clarke, the founder of Abortion Support Network (ASN), which is part of AWB and helps women obtain abortions overseas. Poland closed its borders and grounded all flights and cross-border public transportation on March 15, meaning the woman would have had to travel to the German border, cross it, and take a train to one of Berlin’s airports.