POLAND – Solidarity request: Please sign our petition +++ Debate on bills to liberalise abortion law delayed until after local elections

Solidarity request: Please sign our petition 

We do not want a referendum on abortion, we want access to abortion. In recent years, Polish women and men have clearly shown their position on access to abortion in Poland, taking to the streets of cities and mobilizing to participate in the 2023 elections. That is why we are now clearly telling politicians – we want access to abortion, not a referendum.


FULL REPORT IN POLISH AND ENGLISH: NO TO A REFERENDUM ON ABORTION: 75 reasons why a referendum is a bad idea, by Amnesty Poland https://www.amnesty.org.pl/akcje/petycja__nie_dla_referendum_w_sprawie_aborcji/


Debate on bills to liberalise abortion law delayed until after local elections

The left and centre-right wings of Poland’s ruling coalition clashed following a decision by the speaker of parliament, Szymon Hołownia, to delay the processing of any bills aimed at ending the near-total abortion ban introduced under the former government. On 4 March, he announced that these bills would not come before parliament until 11 April, four days after local elections have taken place nationally. He argued that this was necessary to avoid the legislation becoming a victim of the ongoing election campaign.

He claimed that if parliamentary debate took place now, both sides would feel under pressure to take tough positions, making it hard to find a compromise, whereas after the elections, “there will be space to talk a little more calmly”.

Hołownia is one of the leaders of the centre-right Third Way (Trzecia Droga), a junior partner in the ruling coalition – led by Donald Tusk’s centrist Civic Coalition (KO) – that replaced the national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government in December. Both KO and The Left (Lewica), the other junior partner in the Tusk coalition, have put forward bills that would not only reverse the near-total abortion ban introduced in 2021 under PiS, but allow abortion on demand. The Left’s bill was submitted in November, and KO’s in January.

In February, however, Third Way submitted an alternative bill that would return the law to the pre-2021 law, already one of the strictest in Europe, allowing abortions only if they threatened the woman’s life or health, or resulted from a crime, or if a birth defect was diagnosed – a big step backwards. Criticism of this delay was swift to follow from the left parties. For example: “Women’s rights are nowhere to be seen or heard” and “Continually postponing this issue is cowardice”.

“If Szymon Hołownia thought that by postponing the processing of these bills, he would make the local elections not about abortion, he was very wrong. These local elections will be about abortion and women’s rights,” said Equality Minister Katarzyna Kotula at a press conference of The Left today. Speaker Hołownia is afraid that if the bills to liberalise the abortion law fail due to the votes of the Third Way, they will have to face the anger of women and their votes at the ballot box,” she continued. “Go to these elections and show a red card to those who, after 30 years of a barbaric [abortion] law being in force, still tell you: ‘not now, someday, later’,” declared Kotula.

SOURCE: Notes from Poland, 6 March 2024 ; Photo: Equality Minister Katarzyna Kotula on Twitter at @AgaBak