Solidarity action in the European Parliament, marking one year of the ban on abortion care
© The Left
Updated July 2022
On 22 October 2020, Poland’s illegally appointed Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the country’s abortion law is unconstitutional, specifically striking down the possibility for women to access abortion care on the ground of severe foetal impairment.
This judgment removes the only ground on which Polish women have still been able to access abortion care in practice, when they needed it for therapeutic reasons. The result is agonising for women and their families, forcing most to continue through pregnancies against their will, including in cases of fatal or severe foetal impairment, while others will have no choice but to travel abroad to seek care if they have the financial means to do so, or to seek underground abortions which are now even less available due to pressure from the government.
© The Left
The cruel, regressive move to ban abortion in almost all circumstances has been made possible by the Polish government coalition’s deliberate erosion of the rule of law and democratic values in the country, and its placement of politically appointed judges into a body that, when carrying out its legitimate duty, is responsible for upholding the rule of law.
Almost all judges sitting on the Constitutional Tribunal now have strong links with the ruling coalition and were nominated purely for political purposes, while legitimate Constitutional judges were not sworn in.
We ask political decision makers to urgently make use of all the legal and political tools at their disposal to act, including: the new Rule of Law Cycle, the recommendations under the Rule of Law Framework; the Article 7 proceedings; consider launching an infringement procedure on the Constitutional Tribunal, as called for by the European Parliament; and implement and trigger the rule of law conditionality mechanism for the future EU budget as soon as possible.
Massive protests were prompted by the decision of the Constitutional Tribunal to impose a near ban on abortion. The protests have drawn support from a wide variety of people, including miners, taxi drivers, farmers and trade unions.
Peaceful protesters were met with excessive force with authorities using tear gas, pepper spray and physical assault.
We urge the Polish government to end the intimidation, prosecution and smearing campaigns against peaceful protesters. We also call on EU leaders to condemn attacks and violence perpetrated by the authorities and non-state actors.
Women’s rights defenders have faced violence from law enforcement and far-right groups, as well as smear campaigns in state-controlled media and excessive criminal charges, which were orchestrated and encouraged by the government.
We ask the EU to protect and support women’s human rights defenders and organisations, including financially, in Poland and in every EU Member State.
The Polish Minister for Social Policies, Labour and Family drafted an official government bill that legalises the first act of domestic violence, categorizing it as illegal if it happens more than once. This bill would dismantle the Polish ‘blue card’ system which ensures the obligation of any institution (police, social workers, teachers, NGOs etc) to flag cases of domestic violence. The bill would also lift the obligation of the state to provide a helpline for survivors of domestic violence.
The only thing that stands in the way of adopting this bill is the Istanbul Convention on preventing violence against women. The Polish government stated it wants to withdraw from the Convention. Currently, the withdrawal is up for debate in the Parliament, and the Istanbul Convention is under review by the illegitimate Constitutional Court.
🆕⚡️Exclusive interview with @martalempart from the Polish Women's Strike on how does it feel to be marching for basic rights to safety, security & protection from torture in Poland in the year 2021.— IPPF European Network (@ippfen) March 8, 2021
Read 👉🏼https://t.co/IW8Ca2MaDa#IWD2021 #StrajkKobiet #InternationalWomensDay pic.twitter.com/QKbTDK8VVK
“Dear European politicians, I'm asking for action. I am an EU citizen. Your duty is to fight for my rights, to bring the Polish govt to court & sanction them. Every day, we are putting ourselves on the line." Powerful words from @martalempart at EP #Poland debate #StrajkKobiet pic.twitter.com/vYboRCCOqS— IPPF European Network (@ippfen) February 24, 2021
🇪🇺Now @Europarl_EN plenary discussion on the de facto abortion ban in #Poland! Reminders:— IPPF European Network (@ippfen) February 9, 2021
⚡️the ban endangers women's lives
⚡️the ban results from serious breaches of the #RuleOfLaw
⚡️there are massive national protests against it
⚡️what happens in 🇵🇱 will not stay in 🇵🇱 pic.twitter.com/6bL6GKi9Fa
🇵🇱✊🏼 Protests are being organised in cities all over #Poland in response to the publication of the justification of the ruling that bans abortion care. The Polish government must refrain from repressing peaceful protesters.— IPPF European Network (@ippfen) January 27, 2021
We walk with you🖤⚡️ #Polishprotest #StrajkKobiet https://t.co/9kkH13JSR6
📢🇵🇱🇪🇺 We welcome @Europarl_EN resolution on #Poland's near-complete abortion ban expressing support for the tens of thousands of protesters still on the streets and denouncing the ban itself as well as the violations of the #RuleOfLaw. #StrajkKobiet pic.twitter.com/ZyhmthQUGF— IPPF European Network (@ippfen) November 26, 2020
Poland added to the CIVICUS Monitor’s international human rights Watchlist.
Check out their civic space update on attacks on activists.
Human Rights Watch covers European Parliament hearing on Poland.
Amnesty International reports on protests in Poland.