Today the Polish parliament is discussing a proposal to further reduce women’s – already heavily restricted – access to abortion.

The proposal follows a recent attempt to cut access to abortion that was met with mass protest and international condemnation, and subsequently defeated in the Polish parliament.

In Poland, abortion is currently banned, with only three minor exceptions: when a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest; when a pregnancy endangers a mother's life or health; and when medical tests demonstrate a high likelihood of a significant disability or disease affecting the foetus.

Doctors also have the right to refuse women abortions and contraceptives under a ‘conscience clause’ in the law.

The proposal would remove women’s right to an abortion in cases where medical tests demonstrate a high likelihood of a significant disability or disease affecting the foetus.

This would effectively ban 96 per cent of the relatively low number of legal abortions currently being carried out in Poland.

Swedish MEP, Malin Björk, comments:

“Women have the right to decide over their own bodies and their own sexuality. Having access to safe and legal abortions is fundamental to women's rights.”

“The European Parliament adopted a resolution in November last year criticising attempts to reduce access to abortion in Poland and reaffirming healthcare as a fundamental right. This must not be ignored.

“Without justice for women there can be no justice in Poland.”

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has also called on Poland to refrain from adopting any legislative reform that would further restrict women’s access to safe and legal abortion, and the European Court of Human Rights has also ruled against Poland in several cases owing to Poland’s restrictive interpretation of this right.

Yet, the Polish parliament will continue to discuss the proposal over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, a counter proposal, calling for a progressive reform of Poland’s abortion laws that would increase access to safe and legal abortions has also been discussed by the Polish parliament today.

This counter proposal has been widely supported by civil society groups, however, it is not expected to receive enough support within the parliament to proceed.

As in the case of the previous attempt by the Polish government to reduce access to abortion, mass protests from women and supporters of women’s rights are expected.

“The Polish women and men who courageously stand up for these rights have all our support,” concludes Björk.

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