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Poland’s parliament advances abortion reform bills amidst intense debate

Poland's parliament advances abortion reform bills amidst intense debate
By Yagiz Efe Parmaksiz
Apr 12, 2024 6:40 PM

Poland’s parliament passes four initiatives to loosen its nearly complete abortion ban as the Civic Coalition, led by Prime Minister Donald Tusk, reaffirms his electoral vow

Four initiatives that seek to loosen Poland’s nearly complete abortion ban passed a critical first stage in parliament on Friday, sparking passionate discussions among legislators and activists and marking a key step toward loosening one of Europe’s harshest reproductive laws.

After eight years of conservative government led by the right-wing PiS party, Poland’s current coalition, which is made up of pro-EU parties, is making this step in an attempt to follow through on its pledge to decriminalize abortion.

On its first reading, lawmakers rejected motions against the reforms and chose to send them to a special parliamentary panel for more discussion.

The Civic Coalition, led by Prime Minister Donald Tusk, reaffirmed their electoral vow on social media after the vote, saying, “The parliament will proceed with all projects on the right to abortion.” Also, women’s rights organizations and activists celebrated the vote’s result, calling it “historic.”

Projects aimed at expanding access to abortion in Poland will move forward to the second reading for the first time since 1996. “This is a historic moment,” Kamila Ferenc stated on social media on behalf of the Federation for Women and Family Planning.

With several coalition MPs voicing concerns about the planned legislation, the vote acted as a litmus test for the ruling coalition.

Szymon Holownia, the speaker of parliament, posted on social media, “We voted for all the projects out of respect for democracy and concern for the durability of the coalition,” illustrating the coalition’s careful balancing act.

But President Andrzej Duda, a devout Catholic and supporter of the right-wing opposition PiS party, is anticipated to veto the measures even if they receive final approval from parliament.

The outcome of the next presidential elections might determine the fate of the changes, as the current coalition lacks the required three-fifths majority to overcome a presidential veto.

Underscoring the pressing nature of the matter, Abortion Dream Team NGO member Natalia Broniarczyk said, “I would like this commission to finish its work before the presidential elections.”

Broniarczyk asked a pertinent question of presidential hopefuls, “What will you do with the bill that will come out of this commission?”

According to an Ipsos opinion poll, there is still disagreement in Poland on abortion rights, with 35% of respondents favoring the ability to terminate a pregnancy up until the 12th week. Nonetheless, a sizeable percentage of 23% support a referendum on amending the legislation to allow for abortions; this idea is supported by the Third Way party but opposed by proponents of women’s rights.

Polish anti-abortion organizations have stepped up their opposition to the revisions during the discussion, including protests outside parliament and religious rituals under the theme of “defending life.”

Attendees at a recent demonstration wore posters bearing statements like “abortion kills” and shouted heartfelt prayers, highlighting the profoundly held differences in the nation about reproductive rights.

Source: AFP

Last Updated:  Jun 3, 2024 4:39 PM