In the past week, on 15 and 16 April 2020, Poland’s Parliament decided to debate two draft bills that would severely limit access to safe abortion care and would criminalize the provision of sexuality education. If enacted into law these bills would place women’s and adolescents’ health and well-being at risk and violate Poland’s international human rights obligations.
The bills were introduced only a week prior for discussion in the Polish Parliament. It seemed to have been suggested in the context of COVID-19, in which it is not possible for women to take to the streets in large numbers because of the lockdown measures. Previous versions of this bill were put forward in 2016 and led to huge “Black” protests.
Women’s rights defenders in Poland and elsewhere gathered now massively online through national petitions, social media actions and an international statement with more than 100 organizations backing it, including WIDE+ and some member associations.
The bills together with two other proposals have been directed to further work in commissions. This means a partial success for the women’s movement, and a reason to keep alert and remain in solidarity with each other. It is sadly not the only state in which parties see an opportunity to reduce the rights of people to decide over their own bodies in combination with cointaing the pandemic, see for example the measures taken in Hungary some weeks ago.
The website “Our Common Cause” of WIDE+ member and feminist researcher, teacher and activist Jennifer Ramme has published an ind-depth article on what is at stake in Poland, in English, German and Polish.
Click here for the Joint NGO statement Poland regressive bills April 2020.
Download here the indepth article ‘When global pandemic isnt enough’, on the draft bills discussed in the Polish Parliament past week.