Reproductive Rights Activists in Poland Prepare to Fight New Abortion Ban Proposals

(Photo: Zhu / Flickr)

New legislative initiatives for stricter abortion laws continue to fuel the determination of participants in Poland’s “Black Protests,” who are preparing another women’s strike for October 24.

The first strike on October 3 was such a success that the controversial bill, which would have banned abortion in nearly all cases and even thrown criminal suspicion on women who experienced a miscarriage, was withdrawn. A picture of Warsaw’s Old City filled with umbrellas became symbolic of the massive protests.

But it seems that the storm isn’t over just yet. Shortly after international media celebrated Polish women for their achievement, the newly formed women’s rights movement was confronted with another development directed at drastically tightening the existing abortion law.

Shortly after the protests, the Polish government started to claim that the original bill, based on a civic initiative developed with the initial backing of the country’s ruling party and the Catholic Church, was not well thought out regarding its consequences and hence had to be dismissed. However, Jarosław Kaczynski, the leader of the ruling party PIS, immediately followed that up with a declaration that the party stands for “protection of life” and will soon present its own bill that would significantly reduce the amount of legal abortions in Poland.

In a recent interview, Kaczynski mentioned that his party will work on a solution where also “difficult pregnancies” will end with birth, so that the child can be named and baptized, even if it would be seriously malformed and would die shortly after.

Meanwhile, another legislative project by the anti-abortion organisation “Głos dla Życia” (“Voice for Life”) gathered approximately 160,000 signatures, and has been accepted to be discussed in the Parliament.

The proposal doesn’t foresee any prison sentences for women, but it would introduce higher sentences for carrying out of abortion, with an exception…

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