Ahead of the debate in the Polish Parliament on two bills that would further restrict the access to abortion and ban sexual education in Poland, the Socialist and Democrats call on the ruling PiS party and its leader Jarosław Kaczyński to abandon this radical legislation. Instead they should fight the coronavirus pandemic while supporting Polish workers, and especially women, who are bearing the brunt of the crisis.
S&D leader Iratxe García Pérez said:
“The Polish government is cynically taking advantage of the current situation of lockdown to get this bill through, as the restrictions in place won’t allow people to take to the streets in the same way as the previous mass protests against these measures.
“Polish women live in fear for their health and lives and their loved ones, and they are scared of losing their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of helping them, the government aims to restrict their fundamental rights by tightening what is already one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the EU, and to deprive young people of comprehensive sexual education.
“These measures will inevitably lead to an increase in life-threatening underground abortions. It is about time for PiS to understand that sexual and reproductive rights are human rights and women must be free to decide about their own bodies regardless of the EU country they live in. The Socialists and Democrats’ message to Polish women is clear: we stand by your side in solidarity, and we promise to continue our fight for your fundamental rights.”
Robert Biedroń, vice chair of the women’s committee and the head of Wiosna delegation in the EP, added:
“Living in a country with one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the EU, Polish women have already been through hell. The proposed measures are barbaric, as they would mean almost a complete ban on abortion. As progressives, we won’t rest until women in Poland enjoy the same rights as other European women.
“The second bill to be discussed in Sejm this week is equally socially regressive. It seeks to criminalise the provision of comprehensive sexuality education to minors, and to impose the backwards views on reproductive health, under the false guise of preventing paedophilia. If adopted, it would go against the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and international standards, as well as a 2013 EU Directive that calls on member states to take steps to reduce the risk of children becoming victims of sexual abuse or exploitation. The European Parliament already condemned this bill in a 2019 resolution. The Commission must act now. There is also the need to include what is going on with women's rights and LGBTI+ rights in the Article 7 procedure.
Note to the editor:
Today, women in Poland are only legally allowed to obtain abortions in three circumstances: if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, if the mother’s life is at risk, or if there is a foetal abnormality. The new anti-abortion law would ban any abortion in the third case, resulting in practice to an almost complete ban on abortion.
The legislation to criminalise the provision of comprehensive sexuality education to minors would affect teachers, healthcare providers, journalists and even parents, threatening them with a prison sentence for providing sexual education, including information on contraception or the risks of sexual exploitation.