POLAND / CZECHIA – Poland asks Czech Health Minister to block legislation allowing abortions for Polish women

Balkan Insight reports: “The Polish government on Monday confirmed a report by the Czech weekly Respekt that a representative of the Polish embassy in Prague had sent a letter to the Czech Health Minister in March asking him to intervene to block legislation being debated by the Czech parliament that would clarify the terms under which foreigners can get abortions in the country.

“The intervention by the Polish chargé d’affaires in Prague, described as diplomatically unusual by a Czech deputy minister for legislation, indicates that the right-wing Law and Justice-led (PiS) government is now looking to prevent Polish women from seeking a termination abroad after it engineered a near-total ban on abortion at home [in October 2020].

“In the March letter sent to the now former Czech health minister, Jan Blatny, Polish chargé d’affaires Antoni Wrega was quoted by Respekt as writing: ‘From the point of view of Czech-Polish relations, we perceive it as unfortunate if legislative proposals to legalise commercial abortion tourism are openly justified by the intention to circumvent Polish legislation protecting unborn human life, and if those proposals have the purpose of encouraging Polish citizens to break Polish law.’”

According to Respekt, in response to Wrega’s letter, Blatny replied at the end of March that his ministry did not have the ability to interfere with the law-making processes handled by the parliament and that, in any case, the carrying out of abortions on Polish women on the territory of Czechia was in accordance with both domestic and EU law.

Activists from the group Ciocia Czesia (Auntie Czech), which helps Polish women in Czechia organise an abortion, wrote in a statement on Saturday: “The visions and pleas of Polish politicians whose imaginations have been overwhelmed by values proclaimed from church pulpits will not have any impact here… We are glad that Polish politicians and diplomats are beginning to notice our activities. They’re beginning to fear that their vision of the state of Gilead has no right to exist, thanks to the international solidarity of various feminist organisations and collectives.”

A news report providing much of the same information as well as individual comments from members of the Czech government, concludes: “In any case, the Polish pressure does not seem to be bearing fruit – the Ministry of Health supports the Senate amendment, the mentioned health committee also nodded at it, and none of the addressed senators is going to change their minds under the influence. The Polish embassy did not respond to the request for comment.”

SOURCES: Balkan Insight, by Claudia Ciobanu, 3 May 2021 ; Respekt, by Silvie Lauder, 30 April 2021 (in Polish) ; PHOTO by Sylwia Spurek: Slogan: My body, my choice in Greenworld.co.uk, 5 November 2020