Abortion law in Poland: Pro-death, no future

A few days ago a 12-year old girl gave birth to a child in Kielce. The doctors are in a state of shock. Newspapers are in a state of shock. And I am pissed off. If the bill is passed, such stories will become common occurrence, completely normal and no one should express surprise. In Polish schools there is no sex education and young girls do not have access to gynecological care. Even if there were a gynecological service for girls, but the law was introduced, girls would be forced to continue with their pregnancies, and if any of the doctors tried to save them at an early stage, they could be sentenced to a few years in prison. If girls miscarried, as they’re too young, would they face 2 years’ imprisonment or only a juvenile detention center? Only in this year, in one hospital in Wroclaw, 14 girls have given birth to children – remarked Barbara Nowacka, leader of the Save Women initiative, in the Sejm. Can’t we learn anything from the experiences of El Salvador?

A close friend of mine badly wanted to have a second child. Unfortunately the egg cell nested in the fallopian tube. My friend spent five long weeks in hospital, where the doctors needed to induce a miscarriage through chemical means. She suffered badly, but not physically – only psychologically. Nowadays, terminating a pregnancy does not translate to tearing fetuses asunder, like in the brutal images of pro-lifers in front of the Sejm. It can be a lengthy medical process, unfortunately oftentimes without providing psychological care to the woman.

If the proposed law were passed, doctors wouldn’t stand a chance to intervene in order to save life. They would have to wait until the fetus poses a threat to the woman’s life and ruptures the fallopian tube. Her second child would never have been born and my friend could have died, the husband could have lost his wife, and the child could have lost her mother. I’m genuinely pissed! And terrified as well.

Another close friend of mine in the 12th week of pregnancy received negative results of prenatal screening tests. She was very brave. If the proposed law were passed, she wouldn’t have been able to have amniocentesis (ATF). That would have been classified as invasive diagnostics as it involves a marginal risk of miscarriage. Thus she wouldn’t have found out whether her child would be born healthy or sick and what her life would look like, and what it would require.

I am a mother of a 15-month old boy. At the age of 37, I gave birth to my child. Due to my age, I was provided with the opportunity to undergo free prenatal tests screening the fetus for Downs’ syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome and Patau syndrome. The first trimester was the most stressful stage of my pregnancy. Twice I ended up in hospital due to a risk of miscarriage, I stayed there bedridden for a month, waiting. After a genotyping test, 12 weeks pregnant, I left the doctor’s office crying. Those were tears of happiness that everything was fine. Had I not had the chance to undergo these tests, I don’t know if I would have plucked up enough courage to get pregnant at that age and give birth. I have a lot of friends who have given birth at an even older age. I am furious that someone wants to deprive us of the chance at happiness.

The [anti-abortion] legislation proposal targets all women, their families and friends. It is not a pro-life draft. It’s a pro-death and no future bill.

On Thursday, while protesting at a demonstration organized by Razem (Together Party), I met a lot of mothers with babies in buggies and gondolas, and toddlers and slightly older children in strollers, with pre-school kids marching holding hands. We were all protesting, because we understand a bit more and we have experienced more than men in suits currently debating in the Parliament. We’ve been through these medical procedures, the lengthy process of waiting and delivering the baby, breastfeeding and lulling to sleep. Were the bill passed, the parliament members would turn out to be people without elementary medical knowledge, without empathy, without mothers, wives and daughters. Or simply heartless people.

SOURCE AND PHOTO: Political Critique, by Dorota Głażewska, 26 September 2016

Translation into English by Ola Holubowicz