29 września 2016

FAQ

On Friday 23rd of September, two bills were submitted for Polish parliament's approval. One, proposed by progressive social movements and political parties, which would allow for legal abortion up to 12th week of pregnancy, introduce sexual education in schools and allow wider access to contraception was rejected in the first reading.

The other one, proposed by Ordo Iuris, which would ban abortion in all cases with no exceptions and could lead to imprisonment if a miscarriage occurs and seems 'suspicious' (meaning it could have not been a natural one), was passed along to a parliamentary commission for further works. Poland’s influential Catholic church gave the initiative its seal of approval earlier this year, though its bishops have since opposed jailing women.

Our right-wing government rejected the first project. This has been done despite the public opinion being in favor of alleviating the current Act and only 14% supporting the other project. Instead of that, the Parliament decided to discuss a law which will ban abortion in almost every case of endangered pregnancy. Doctors removing a fetus, even when a women’s life is in danger, will also face legal consequences. This leads to leaving pregnant women almost without any medical support. Women will have to give birth to children conceived during rape, to fetus with a huge damage and prognostic of disability or even death just after birth, despite their own health, both physical and psychological.

Lawmakers also sent to committee a Law and Justice-proposed bill intended to limit in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), the treatment that involves fertilising an egg outside a woman’s body to produce an embryo that can then be implanted in her womb. The measure would notably make it illegal to freeze embryos, which its proponents say are human beings from the moment of fertilisation.

Polish women do not want to die for their children, they want to love and watch them grow. All we are asking is to do it on our own terms, not under pressure of any government. We are asking for education, especially at schools, where teachers are not prepared to handle sexual assaults between kids or teenagers, where the girl and boy cliches are still very much alive. Being a parent is a heroism beyond any imagination, let’s not allow anybody to demand from us more than we can give.

Women’s groups and human rights campaigners in Poland have staged protests against a proposed new law that would criminalise all abortions.

A national strike in Poland to stand up for women's right. For more information visit #BlackProtest page.

Rejecting the “Stop abortion” draft.

We demand access to reliable sex education, contraception and effective in vitro procedures. We oppose the further tightening abortion laws.

The current Polish abortion law is already extremely restrictive. It allows women to terminate pregnancy only in three drastic situations: when women’s life and/or health are threatened, when the pregnancy is the result of criminal offence (rape or incest), or when the foetus is severely malformed.

In recent years we have witnessed a substantial raise of power of the Polish catholic church, which continues to enforce misinformation and harmful stereotypes about abortion.

- In 2008 a pregnant 14-year-old from Lublin was terrorised by pro-life organisations when the priest working in the hospital she was admitted to gave away her private mobile number to extremists.

- A year ago, prof. Bogdan Chazan refused to give legal abortion to a patient, whose foetus was irreversably damaged and had no chance of survival (above else it had an open skull with its brain leaking and its eyes outside of its head). Furthermore, he refused to redirect the patient to another person who could give the mother the treatment she deserved and blocked her treatment until the abortion was no longer legal. The mother gave birth to a baby who died after 2 weeks of extreme suffering. The rightwing extremists made prof. Chazan a hero.

- Most recently, a 12-year-old girl gave birth to a child of a 29-year-old man. The prosecutor's office does not treat it as rape.

These are just the more widely known examples of terror enforced onto women in Poland, where the vast majority of abortions are executed on the black market. Now in XXI century, women's torture will become even more widely accepted, with instances of personal tragedies, lifes ruined and death covered under the blanket of hateful beliefs.

In El Salvador, the debate on the complete ban of abortion began in the early 90s. In 1997, the National Republican Alliance (ARENA) has submitted a proposal for an absolute ban on abortion. On 25th of April the project was approved by Parliament by a majority of 61 out of 84 votes. El Salvador also amended its Constitution in January 1999 to recognize human life from the moment of conception.

Under this Code, a person who performs an abortion with the woman's consent, or a woman who self-induces or consents to someone else inducing her abortion, can be imprisoned for two to eight years. A person who performs an abortion to which the woman has not consented can be sentenced to four to ten years in jail; if the person is a physician, pharmacist, or other health care worker, he or she is instead subject to between six and 12 years.

The criminalization of abortion has extremely serious consequences for women’s lives and health: abortions performed under dangerous conditions; high mortality and morbidity rates; and a lack of reliable studies that could help health services provide better care to their clients, including women who have had abortions in unsafe conditions. This situation is further exacerbated by the persecution of women by the Salvadoran justice and health systems. Unsafe abortion is a serious public health problem and the second direct cause of maternal mortality in El Salvador.

Many low-income women who have a miscarriage or a stillbirth are often prosecuted. Oftentimes they are reported by medical personnel to the police and subsequently arrested in the hospital. They are wrongly accused of abortion or homicide and sentenced up to 40 years in prison. Currently, there are 19 women in prison for pregnancy related complications that have not had due process while being prosecuted.

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On 23rd of September, the first reading of the law in the Parliament was held, and then it was referred to the work of the committee.

After the completion of work, the commission establishes a common position on the draft law and submit it in the form of a report, and its request to adopt the draft without amendments, adoption of the draft with certain amendments, or rejection of the project.

The law may be rejected at the stage of work in the committee, and that is the purpose of #BlackMonday.

If accepted, this act will deny abortion to victims of rape, paedophilia and incest, as well as to the women whose foetus is irreversably damaged and/or is a threat to the mother's life.

Furthermore, the ban will penalise forced miscarriage, making each and every single woman and a doctor a suspect. Doctors will therefore refuse prenatal testing for a legitimate fear of being prosecuted.

If passed, the legislation would introduce jail sentences of up to five years for causing “the death of a conceived child”. It would apply both to women seeking abortions and doctors and health professional carrying them out. Doctors will be afraid of charges that might be out against them if anything goes wrong and the woman will miscarry.

Doctors will not undertake any life saving actions to save the life of a pregnant woman (e.g. with an ectopic pregnancy) until it leads to “a direct threat to the woman's life”. In this case, we and/or our friends/mothers/sisters/daughters will receive support only at the moment when we are in death throes.

Any woman or girl who became pregnant as a result of rape will be forced to deliver the child regardless of their age, her financial- or family situation.

A mother awaiting a child with defects and malfunctions causing the child’s death soon after delivery, will have no choice but keep the pregnancy and watch it grow inside her until she delivers and becomes a witness of the death of her child.

A woman who miscarried, beyond the great tragedy she is facing, can expect the police investigating the case and a number of hearings.

Prenatal testing will be significantly reduced, and hence - the diagnosis and treatment of an unborn child will become almost impossible.

The IVF procedure will no longer be legal, as the proposed bill ”protects life” from the moment of conception, i.e. the fusion of a female and male gametes.

Many rape victims will not report the crime in fear of possible pregnancy and therefore being forced by law to go full term pregnancy with no choice of termination.

The increase of peri-postnatal deaths due to untreated defects and illnesses in prenatal care.

Women's health will be in greater risk as a consequence of non-professional abortion.

The fear of being charged with causing unintentional miscarriage will lead to reduction of work opportunities for pregnant women as well as the number of sick notes is expected to increase.

The bill prohibiting abortion changed the wording in Article 2, Section 1, Clause 1 of the Act on family planning. The bill removes the term "prenatal care of the fetus" and replaces it with "medical care for pregnant women and the unborn child". If this bill is passed in its current form, which completely prohibits the termination of pregnancy mainly for medical reasons or when a fetus is deformed, there will be no reason for prenatal testing because it will only diagnose the fetus without the possibility of treating it.

The bill also sets the boundary at which protecting the mother's health will become illegal. For example, according the Section 4, a doctor is released from criminal responsibility only if the death of the fetus is the consequence of actions taken at a time of "direct threat to the life of the mother and the fetus." The bill does not define a direct threat to life. Because of the insufficient medical knowledge of judges, if cases come to trial, experts will have to be appointed and they will base their expertise solely on their knowledge and experience. The term “direct threat to life” is unambiguous and difficult to interpret. In Poland, there is no common law; court rulings are often quite different in similar cases. In each case, what constitutes a violation of this law will have to be considered individually, which leaves room for abuse.

The premise of directness could be understood in two ways: a threat or danger that exists immediately, here and now, or effects closely related to some cause, occurring after some time. The bill does not indicate the meaning of this premise. This may have a so-called "chilling effect" on doctors, thereby intensifying their fear of action. Doctor’s doubts about which interpretation to adopt and their fear that law enforcement agencies might adopt a different one will, in practice, prevent them from a quick and professional response to the threat of a patient’s life.

In the light of the bill, the possibility of women’s self-determination will be greatly reduced. Women’s rights as patients will be reduced to virtually zero.