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Health

“Poland’s Stringent Abortion Law Faces Legislative Review Amid High Abortion Rates”

Poland’s parliament is finally engaging in a long-anticipated discussion regarding the stringent abortion laws in the country. Despite its strong Catholic tradition, Poland boasts some of Europe’s most restrictive abortion regulations, prompting many women to seek termination options abroad or through alternative means.

Lawmakers in the lower house of parliament are set to review four distinct proposals on Thursday. Presently, abortion in Poland is governed by a 1993 law, heavily influenced by the Catholic Church, which faced further tightening after a 2020 constitutional court ruling banning abortion in cases of fetal abnormalities.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who assumed office in December, has pledged to legalize abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy, asserting that the decision should rest with the woman rather than religious or political authorities.

While some of Tusk’s supporters anticipated prompt action on the matter, conservative factions within his coalition delayed addressing the issue until after recent local elections.

Nevertheless, the road to reform remains uncertain, with conservative leaders holding influential positions capable of obstructing legislative change. President Andrzej Duda, possessing veto power, has already blocked legislation permitting over-the-counter access to the morning-after pill. Additionally, Parliament Speaker Szymon Hołownia, once considering a religious vocation, has faced criticism for delaying debate on abortion legislation.

Abortion rights activists, barred from attending the parliamentary debate, accuse Hołownia of abusing his authority and disregarding the electorate’s desires.

Interest in the debate is palpable, with stakeholders and journalists eagerly awaiting proceedings. Despite anti-abortion sentiments, lawmakers will vote Friday on whether to advance the proposals to a special commission for further deliberation.

Under current law, abortions in Poland are permissible only in cases where the woman’s health or life is endangered, or if the pregnancy results from a crime. However, access to legal abortion remains challenging, with doctors often refusing to perform the procedure even when legally permissible.

In response, many Polish women seek abortion pills from abroad or undergo procedures outside the country. Despite the legal risks associated with assisting in abortions, activists continue to provide support and advocacy for women seeking termination options.

Proposed legislation aims to address these challenges, with bills seeking to decriminalize assistance in abortion and legalize abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy. However, conservative factions advocate for maintaining stringent regulations, raising questions about the future of abortion law reform in Poland.

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