Polish government signals U-turn on total abortion ban

AGORA moderator's picture

A proposed total abortion ban in Poland will not be implemented, a member of the government has said, describing mass protests against the ban as a lesson in humility for the country’s leadership. Jarosław Gowin, the minister of science and higher education, said on Wednesday that the protests by women had “caused us to think and taught us humility”.

The comments appear to indicate that Poland’s conservative leadership will withhold support from the highly unpopular proposal to ban abortions even in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is at risk.

The rightwing government, led by the Law and Justice party, has been under international pressure not to move forward with the plan, with a debate scheduled for Wednesday in the European parliament on the situation of women in Poland.

Poland already outlaws abortions, with exceptions made only for rape, incest, badly damaged foetuses or if the mother’s life is at risk. In practice, though, some doctors refuse to perform even legal abortions, citing moral objections.

Polish women seeking abortions typically go to Germany or other neighbouring countries to get them or order abortion pills online.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate speaker, Stanisław Karczewski, said Poland’s upper house of parliament would not initiate work on a bill that would further restrict Poland’s abortion law.

Karczewski said senators would wait to see what the more powerful lower house of parliament would do. However, he voiced support for a ban on abortions of foetuses with Down’s syndrome, something currently allowed.

“They are wonderful children, very much loved by their parents, very loving parents, bringing a lot of warmth and a lot of love into a home. I am a great opponent of killing such children,” Karczewski said.

An anti-abortion initiative gathered 450,000 signatures in support of the total abortion ban. A parliamentary commission is now analysing it. Politicians voted against considering a separate initiative for a more liberal abortion law.

The matter has led to mass protests, the largest on Monday when thousands of women turned out dressed in black. Many boycotted work and classes.

This Article has been cross-posted from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/05/polish-government-performs-u-turn-on-total-abortion-ban