Why Poland’s new government is challenged by abortion

Published: May 24, 2024
Patrice McMahon

When Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk formed a coalition government in 2023 committed to making “historic changes,” he promised to improve the country’s track record on women’s rights. Noticeably absent in the coalition’s agreement, however, was any specific wording on access to abortion, one of the most controversial issues under the previous government.

The coalition parties are united in their opposition to the conservative Law and Justice Party, PiS, which led the government for eight years. PiS weakened Poland’s democracy by undermining the independence of the judiciary and placing restrictions on the media, and it strained its relationship with the European Union. PiS also ushered in some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe, with the help of hand-picked judges from Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal.

Continued: https://theconversation.com/why-polands-new-government-is-challenged-by-abortion-228863

Former Polish PM regrets restricting abortion laws in light of liberalisation push

By Aleksandra Krzysztoszek | EURACTIV.pl
Apr 14, 2024

Former prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki of the former ruling conservative PiS party has said he supports restoring the status quo ‘abortion compromise’ in Poland he had scrapped when in power, as lawmakers push to expand abortion access.

Morawiecki said he feels regret as the proposals now being debated in parliament are even more far-reaching than those previously in force. “If I could turn back time, yes, I would do it. I think the compromise was a bad thing, but much better than what may await us in the future,” he told RMF FM radio.

Continued: https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/news/former-polish-pm-regrets-restricting-abortion-laws-in-light-of-liberalisation-push/

Will Poland’s New Government Legalize Abortion?

Despite campaign promises, the fight for abortion rights seems far from over.

FEBRUARY 12, 2024
Foreign Policy

After Poland’s parliamentary election in October, many voters were hopeful that the new government would finally scrap the country’s strict abortion law. The law, which had been in place for three decades, was tightened further in 2020, leading to a near-total ban on abortion.

The election ended the eight-year rule of Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS), with the opposition winning enough seats to form a coalition government. In the lead-up to the vote, two of the three groups that made up the opposition—the centrist Civic Coalition and the Left—pledged to legalize abortion up to or through 12 weeks of pregnancy; the former promised to do so within the first 100 days in office.

Continued: https://foreignpolicy.com/2024/02/12/poland-abortion-rights-pro-choice-election-coalition-pis-law-ban/

Polish court throws out $16 fine for swearing at anti-abortion protest

February 5, 2024

It has taken three years, two guilty verdicts and a lot of frayed nerves, but a Polish court has finally thrown out the $16 fine Julia Landowska received for swearing during an anti-government rally in Gdansk.

Ms. Landowska, a 23-year-old medical student, was charged by the police in 2021 after she took part in a demonstration against new restrictions on abortion. At the time, women across Poland were protesting a decision by the country’s Constitutional Court that banned access to abortion in all circumstances except cases of sexual assault, incest or if the mother’s life or health were at risk.

Continued: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-poland-abortion-protester-fine/

Half of public support Tusk’s aim to introduce abortion on demand in Poland, find polls

FEB 2, 2024
Notes from Poland

Two new polls have found that around half of the public support the proposals recently put forward by Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s centrist Civic Coalition (KO) and one of its coalition partners, The Left (Lewica), to introduce abortion on demand.

A poll by the IBRiS agency for broadcaster Radio Zet published on Wednesday asked respondents whether abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy should be allowed in any circumstances and without providing a reason.

Continued:  https://notesfrompoland.com/2024/02/02/half-of-public-support-tusks-aim-to-introduce-abortion-on-demand-in-poland-find-polls/

Second trimester abortions: a preventable crisis in global abortion care

Diminishing access to second trimester abortions in many countries denies the reality of the rising number of vulnerable women most likely to need a later stage abortion. Sally Howard reports on a preventable crisis in global abortion care

BMJ 2024; 384 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.p2982
Published 31 January 2024
Sally Howard, freelance journalist

Kamila had dearly wanted to have a child. The 27 year old was happily engaged to be married and was 17 weeks pregnant when a scan showed that her fetus was developing without a skull and wouldn’t survive to birth. She was refused an abortion in her home country of Poland, where abortions in the case of fetal abnormality are prohibited.

On her way to the Netherlands, where an abortion had been arranged by the charity Abortion Without Borders, Kamila (not her real name) started bleeding heavily in a petrol station toilet. Distraught and weak, she had to be transported to a German hospital, where she gave birth to a dead fetus in the emergency room. Kamila returned to Poland after a four day hospital stay, with a bill for her medical treatment from the German state.

Poland has some of Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws (fig 1). The law that forced Kamila to travel had been in place since 2020, introduced to Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal (the national court that supervises compliance of statutory law with the country’s constitution) by the Polish Law and Justice Party, which was voted out of power on 19 October 2023. In those three years the ruling has effectively shuttered Polish abortion provision: both medical and surgical abortions are inaccessible in Poland, even in cases where they’re technically legally permitted, such as when there’s a threat to the life or health of the parent.

Continued (Behind paywall): https://www.bmj.com/content/384/bmj.p2982.full

Poland shows the difficulties of trying to reverse an abortion ban

By Kate Brady and Gerrit De Vynck, Washington Post
January 27, 2024

PRENZLAU, Germany — Only 30 miles separate the two clinics where gynecologist Maria Kubisa works, but what’s legal at her clinic on this side of the border would be criminal at the clinic back in Poland.

So women have been crossing over to seek help from Kubisa on this side, especially in the past three years, since a Polish court backed by a ring-wing government imposed a near-ban on abortion.

Unlocked: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/01/27/poland-abortion-12-weeks-donald-tusk/

Bill to introduce abortion on demand in Poland submitted by PM Tusk’s political group

JAN 25, 2024
Notes from Poland

Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s centrist Civic Coalition (KO) group has submitted a bill to parliament that would introduce abortion on demand up to the 12th week of pregnancy.

If passed, the legislation would not only reverse the near-total abortion ban introduced under the former Law and Justice (PiS) government but would create a more liberal abortion law than existed previously.

However, Tusk has admitted that his more conservative junior coalition partners are not supportive of the bill.

Continued: https://notesfrompoland.com/2024/01/25/bill-to-introduce-abortion-on-demand-in-poland-submitted-by-pm-tusks-political-group/

Tusk pledges bill introducing “legal and safe abortion” in Poland

JAN 15, 2024
Notes from Poland

Poland’s prime minister, Donald Tusk, has pledged that his centrist Civic Coalition (KO) political grouping will submit a bill to liberalise the abortion law. He admitted, however, that it remains uncertain if he can gather enough support from his more conservative coalition partners to pass the measure.

“Civic Coalition will submit a bill that gives the right to safe abortion up to the 12th week [of pregnancy] with certain conditions,” said Tusk in an interview on Friday with Poland’s largest three television stations, TVP, Polsat and TVN.

Continued: https://notesfrompoland.com/2024/01/15/tusk-pledges-bill-introducing-legal-and-safe-abortion-in-poland/

Poland – How to Maneuver Around Acknowledging the Right to Access Abortion

Some Thoughts on the ECtHR’s judgment in M.L. v Poland

Written by Sissy Katsoni
January 11, 2024

On 14 December 2023, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR, Court) issued its much-awaited judgment in M.L. v Poland, i.e. in one of the approximately 1000 applications submitted before it regarding the Polish restrictive abortion policy. The application concerned the alleged violation of the applicant’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), as she had to travel abroad to a private clinic to terminate her pregnancy despite carrying a foetus that was diagnosed with Trisomy 21. This barrier was a result of the legislative amendments that were introduced by the Polish Constitutional Court’s judgment of 22 October 2020, which effectively banned access to abortion even in cases of foetal abnormalities. This blog post seeks to highlight the shortcomings of the judgment against the background of other human rights bodies’ jurisprudence, and to criticise the Court’s manoeuvring around the explicit acknowledgement and stronger protection of abortion rights under the ECHR.

Continued: https://www.ejiltalk.org/how-to-maneuver-around-acknowledging-the-right-to-access-abortion-some-thoughts-on-the-ecthrs-judgment-in-m-l-v-poland/