Polish abortion ban rejected after mass protests

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This afternoon, the Justice and Human Rights Committee of the Polish Sejm announced that it would throw out a proposed law which would have banned all abortion in Poland.

The decision comes on the heels of a series of mass protests which saw tens of thousands of women and men dressed in black take to the streets in opposition to the bill. The latest “CzarnyProtest” (BlackProtest) took place this Monday, when women across the country went on strike to demonstrate in droves in the rain, chanting “Chcę mieć wybór” (“I want choice”).

It seems the movement had an effect: Since the protests began, polling has shown an increase to near-unanimous popular opposition to the bill, and even growing support for more liberal laws. Currently, abortion is only legal if the pregnancy is the result of a crime or if the woman’s life is in danger, and about 2,000 abortions are performed legally in Poland each year. Minister of Science and Higher Education Jarosław Gowin cited the demonstrations in explaining the decision, saying the women “caused us to think and taught us humility.”

Nevertheless, Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the right-wing governing PiS party, has suggested that they could move in the future to tighten abortion laws to a lesser degree. In that case, activists have threatened further protests.

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9 thoughts on “Polish abortion ban rejected after mass protests

  • October 6, 2016 at 9:57 am
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    Please correct: current “compromise” abortion law also allows it in a case of the pregnancy being a risk to the woman’s health, and in cases of “high probability of serious, irreversible handicap of the fetus or an incurable illness of the fetus which would otherwise threaten fetus life”.

    There are of course serious practical issues here for both sides of the abortion dispute. In practice women are often effectively denied abortions in cases in which the law would otherwise allow for, and this is heavily correlated with being or not privileged economically. Also, the “handicap of the fetus” is being differently interpreted by different people, leading to opinions that the law is “too lax” or “too restrictive” depending on opinions which handicap is “serious enough”.

    Interestingly, it is the “pro life” camp which vigorously opposes a potential legislation of the specific medical definition which “handicap” allows abortion. For them such a list would amount to “condemning those ‘on the list’ to die”. But at the same time, the “pro life” camp accuses the current system of “allowing for killing babies with slight congenital defects through the ‘handicap loophole'”. Have a cake and eat it…

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    • October 6, 2016 at 9:55 pm
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      This government certainly seems to react to a bit of pressure. How about a spokesperson making a statement unequivocally condemning all the xenophobic and racist incidents which have happened in recent months?

      I wonder how many others are thoroughly fed up with foreign commentators constantly accusing Poland of xenophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and so many other phobias.

      If Mr Kaczynski is an admirer of Marshal Pilsudski, as I believe he is, then he will know that the Marshal had no qualms about cracking down hard on extremists of both the right and of the left.

      There is a march coming up in November. Will the government make sure that both peaceful marchers and any peaceful demonstrators are fully protected? The world will be watching.

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    • October 7, 2016 at 12:25 am
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      Maybe. Maybe not. It might be enough just to get rid of a few individuals who are putting their own personal agendas ahead of the good of the country. No names mentioned.

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      • October 7, 2016 at 12:32 am
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        That was a reply to Ernest and not to Michal Karski.

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        • October 7, 2016 at 4:50 pm
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          Many outsiders completely misrepresent Pilsudski. Yes, he came to absolute power in a coup.Yes, he was more or less a dictator, but he had a vision of Poland as a multicultural state and was an opponent of nationalists like Dmowski.

          How is he a role model for Mr K and others in PiS? Apart from anything else, Pilsudski was an army man, with some serious military victories on his CV.

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          • October 7, 2016 at 5:10 pm
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            Salwator, I hope you’re not suggesting that I’m an outsider or that I’m misrepresenting Pilsudski. I agree with your description of him. The fact that he became increasingly authoritarian with age and made many enemies doesn’t take away from his achievements. There can be worse role models for PiS to follow, but at the moment, it rather looks as if they’re following Dmowski’s agenda and not Pilsudski’s.

            Will sign out since we seem to be straying from the topic of the discussion. Regards.

          • October 7, 2016 at 5:51 pm
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            Final comment before I get off at Salwator.

            It wasn’t you I had in mind. I read someone’s comment somewhere who just dismissed Pilsudski as a dictator and nothing else. It’s amazing how little is known about him in the West. What is even worse is that our own government doesn’t seem to have a clue about him. Over and out.

  • October 6, 2016 at 3:33 pm
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    I’m 75, live in NY state, USA; I’m so happy to hear that the protesters have had some success. I’ve only recently become aware of how restrictive the government is; we know everywhere how the church is; but the power of the church in government is deplorable.
    Good luck. Sincerely. christine

    Reply

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