On 23 September the Polish parliament gave the green light to a law proposal that would effectively and almost totally ban abortion. Even though Poland already has in place one of the most restrictive abortion legislation in Europe, with terminations legally permitted only when the life of the foetus is under threat, when there is a grave threat to the health of the mother, or when the pregnancy is a result of incest or rape, the proposed ban, were it to be approved, would only permit abortion in one single case scenario: when there is a direct threat to the woman’s life. If the new legislation is enacted, women could be penalised with up to five years in prison and doctors would be liable to prosecution.
For over a month, women’s and feminist organisations in Poland have organised protests against this initiative which clearly represents a violation of Human Rights. Protests and solidarity marches, known as “Black Protests”, have taken place in several cities, with thousands of people dressed in black clothes making their voices heard loud and clear against this repressive and unacceptable Polish government proposal. Women’s organisations in Poland have also called a national strike in protest against this law. The strike took place last Monday, 3 September, during which women refused to undertake any type of work, be it paid or unpaid. The strike action culminated with one of the biggest demonstrations seen in Poland in recent years.
In Podemos we are in total solidarity with the struggle against this violation of Polish women’s rights and absolutely reject such a repressive measure which not only represents a serious violation of fundamental rights, but also carries a proven risk to people’s health and wellbeing, as well as being contrary to international Human Rights legislation and, more specifically, to the sexual and reproductive rights of women. International evidence shows that prohibitionist and restrictive legislation doesn’t reduce the number of abortions, but merely makes it impossible for abortions to be carried out through the health service, forcing women to have clandestine, unsafe abortions without adequate health guarantees, with the resulting unnecessary and completely avoidable risks to women’s lives and health.
From Podemos we are deeply concerned by the curtailing of freedoms and guarantees which the governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party has been undertaking in Poland since they came to power and which last January prompted the European Commission to initiate a formal investigation into the possible violation of the rule of law in matters relating to justice and freedom of information. Democratic values, Human Rights, and the guarantees offered by the rule of law have been and continue to be the pillars of the Europe in which we want to live, a Europe that distances itself from the damning economic austerity project and focuses on the rights and needs of its people.
We therefore demand that the Polish government fulfils its obligations and guarantees that Human Rights are respected in the country. We wholeheartedly support, and recognise as our own, the struggle and demands of Polish women’s rights organisations.
Podemos International Relations Secretariat and Equality, Feminisms and Sexualities Area