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The S&D Group has called on the Polish Parliament to immediately stop working on proposals to widen the ban on abortion to include cases where a woman has been the victim of rape or incest. The call came during a visit by S&D MEPs to Warsaw to meet with constitutional affairs experts, women’s rights NGOs and to take part in a demonstration of thousands of Poles against the abortion proposals.

The delegation included S&D vice-president Josef Weidenholzer, Group spokesperson for civil liberties, justice and home affairs, Birgit Sippel, spokesperson for gender equality, Marie Arena and Sylvia Kaufmann MEP.

S&D Group spokesperson for gender equality, Marie Arena, said:

“Even the existing laws in Poland are some of the most restrictive in Europe. Despite some exceptions, they effectively leave thousands of women with no legal access to abortion. These new proposals go beyond this and further threaten women’s health, their fundamental rights and basic human dignity. The proposals would mean that a thirteen-year-old girl who has been raped by a relative would become a criminal if she terminates the pregnancy. We, as women and as Europeans, have a responsibility to stand up for the rights of girls like this. We are proud to be standing side-by-side with the thousands of Polish women and men marching here today for fundamental rights.”

S&D Group spokesperson for civil liberties, justice and home affairs, Birgit Sippel said:

“We are here this weekend to show our support for Polish citizens, for civil society and for democracy. Being part of the EU means ensuring that certain unalienable principles are respected. These are under threat in Poland. We are here today to support Polish women in their fight for their fundamental rights. The Polish parliament needs to listen to the will of the people and reject these proposals in their entirety.

“We also must not turn a blind eye to the changes already made by the Polish government. The changes to the press law and constitutional court are a threat to the independence of the media and the judiciary. This is not just the opinion of the S&D Group, this is the opinion of all independent international bodies who have looked at the issue. Poland must immediately change direction and accept the proposals put forward by the European Commission.”

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