Feminists and other progressives in Poland have condemned the efforts by conservative and far-right groups to further criminalize activities that promote or support abortion in the country. On Wednesday, December 28, under the leadership of the Life and Family Foundation (ŻiR) headed by Kaja Godek, a draft bill titled ‘Abortion is Murder’ was submitted to the lower house of the Polish parliament as a citizens’ initiative signed by more than 150,000 people. The ŻiR Foundation demanded that the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party-led government and parliament approve a bill criminalizing activities that promote or provide support to abortion in Poland.
According to the Life and Family Foundation (ŻiR), “the ‘Abortion is Murder’ bill gives prosecutors new tools with which to charge not only individuals who are found aiding and abetting abortion, but also those who organize facilities to develop this aiding and abetting in a systematic way.”
Womens’ rights groups such as the National Women’s Strike and left-wing parties including Razem (Together) have denounced this new misogynistic bid and voiced their opposition to the ‘war against Polish women’ waged by far-right and conservative groups.
Abortion rights have been under attack in Poland for many years. In October 2020, in a controversial judgment, the Polish Constitutional Court banned abortions in the country in case of fetal defects. The ruling was welcomed by the PiS government and other conservative sections, including the Catholic Church.
The ruling led to widespread protests from women’s rights groups and liberal sections in Poland and abroad. Poland remains today one of the most conservative countries in Europe, especially with regard to abortion rights. Since 1993, abortions are only permitted in instances of rape and incest, where pregnancy poses a risk to the mother’s health, and until the October 2020 ruling, in the case of fetal defects.
Women’s right groups and left-wing parties condemned the ruling as a ‘war on Polish women’ and launched initiatives to support women in need of abortion, also calling for the legalization of abortion in the county. In response, conservative groups are now attempting to criminalize any support for abortion and to tighten the existing ban in the country.
On Thursday, December 29, the National Women’s Strike stated that “none of Kaja Godek’s projects have gone through, despite the proximity of her views to that of the hateful ruling right. The Godek project is a response to the fact that despite the tightening of anti-abortion laws, Poles know more about abortion than ever and use that knowledge.”
On December 29, left-wing Razem said, “Another barbaric project of the fanatic right [has been presented to] Parliament. It’s another attempt to intimidate and cause a chilling effect that could endanger women’s lives and health. We will continue to stand by women and when we come to power we will ensure access to legal, safe, and free abortion.”