Poland’s parliament repealed a prospective bill that would have placed a prohibition on abortion on Oct. 5. Representatives in the lower house, the Sejm, struck down the legislation by 352 votes to 58.
In 1993, Poland’s government instituted a confining abortion law. Poland has some of Europe’s most stringent abortion regulations. The law permits abortion through the 12th week of pregnancy if the woman’s health is in jeopardy, the pregnancy is the outcome of rape or incest or if the fetus has an unrecoverable injury. Approximately 1,000 legal abortions are carried out annually, though the number of forbidden abortions ranges from 10,000 to 120,000.
Many doctors decline to perform an abortion on their clients, citing moral objections as their reason for declining. Doctors who assist in abortion can also face up to five years in jail. Instead, Polish women receive abortions in Germany or comb through the internet for pills to induce an abortion.
The devoted Catholic nation has proposed to make abortion illegal with the help of Stop Abortion, an organization committed to preserving traditional values. Under the proposed bill, termination would only be allowed if pregnancy places the woman’s life in peril. The anti-abortion proposition collected 450,000 signatures and received support from the Roman Catholic Church.
Abortion, defined as a medical procedure to end pregnancy and cause the death of the fetus, is a sensitive topic. People often take either the pro-life stance or defend the pro-choice argument. Individuals should divert their attention away from these two sides and instead ask themselves how a woman who wishes to receive an abortion must feel about having to go outside of her homeland to get it done safely.
It is an unfair perception to think that a woman who has an abortion is licentious. Regardless of whether she goes through with the abortion, giving birth is ultimately her choice. She may receive an abortion because there is no other way out and she fears that the decision will stick with her for the rest of her life. Having an abortion is a difficult resolution for a woman to make, so society should not place further baggage on women by condemning their actions.
Polish citizens set out to protest the suggested abortion ban. On Oct. 3, masses of women took the day off from school and work to express their disapproval. They were inspired by Icelandic women who skipped work in 1975 to dispute discrimination in the work field. The women who participated in the Icelandic protests sent a video that demonstrated their support to the Polish women. The women chanted “Jestesmy z wami,” a line that translates to “We are with you.” Kenyan women broadcasted a similar message of support.
Some waitresses dressed in black to stand in solidarity as protestors marched toward Warsaw carrying black flags, a movement which was termed “Black Monday” by its supporters. The black color was intended to symbolize the oppressive and restrictive measures enacted by legislature. Twenty-four thousand Polish men and women participated in the demonstration outside of the mayor’s office in Castle Square. On Facebook, the protests attracted 116,000 participants from 90 cities.
Mixed views have been circulating regarding the topic of abortion in Poland, especially among officials. Mariusz Dzierzawski, a Stop Abortion spokesperson who initiated the notion, said, “Murdered children lost,” referring to Poland’s near-complete prohibition on abortion. Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said, “Let them have their fun.”
Poland should be praised for revoking the abortion ban. People are permitted to openly voice their views on abortion. It is completely acceptable to disagree with an opposing opinion, as this discloses that we are fortunate to live in a world where we can challenge judgment. As long as pro-choice and pro-life supporters do not harshly denounce one another, it is healthy to have different ideas.
Nevertheless, illegalizing abortion seems like a strange strategy. Poland’s overturn of the suggested law is key to the development of human rights around the globe. If the country had limited a woman’s reproductive choices, it would have opened dangerous territory. It would be baffling to entitle the government to supervise a medical policy. If the government can make a woman continue her pregnancy, does that mean it can make her go through sterilization too? It is a doctor’s role to inform their patients about proper courses of action and to provide insight.
Poland understood that pro-choice is not synonymous with pro-abortion. The past few weeks reveal the celebration of persistence, the triumph for civil rights and the embodiment of a determined spirit.