Bill banning all abortions falls by large majority, but a second one passed the first round
Polish Women’s Strike activists spilled red paint and left slogans saying “Don’t ask for my blood Poland” on cardboard outside Polish ruling party (PiS) offices in different cities in Poland over last weekend in anticipation of the upcoming week in the Sejm, the lower house of parliament, where two anti-abortion bills are tabled for this week. It’s a Ministry of Health decree , they have put it on their website until 6 December for comments. The 16-page text of the government’s abortion bill can be found here in Polish.
A bill tabled for 30 November aims to create a Polish Institute of Family and Demography, led by right-wing fundamentalist parliamentarian Bartłomiej Wróblewski, the same person who tabled the motion to the Constitutional Court that resulted in the October 2020 ban on abortion. Their goal is an increase in Poland’s birth rate, which they hope to achieve by limiting the number of divorces and creating what they call the “proper social context”. It allows women to be investigated if they were known to be pregnant and are no longer pregnant. This bill was passed by only one vote of 205 to 204, with 24 abstentions. It will not go to a committee.
This bill would allow the Polish Institute of Family and Demography, an extremely well-funded group, to have access to data collected by any entity in Poland, e.g. on every pregnancy, every miscarriage, every abortion, and to participate in any court proceedings and administrative processes involving women, acting as a prosecutor – for example, in divorce proceedings, to demand that the divorce should not be granted. He would also be able to track down all rainbow families and bring cases against the parents – demanding that they be deprived of their parental rights. What is worse, they will not only have the right to join any such proceedings but also to initiate them.
Another bill, tabled in the Sejm for 2 December, intended to make every abortion illegal, fell by a very large majority 48 for, 361 against, and 12 abstentions. That’s a mighty welcome fall!! It not only would have established a total ban on every abortion in Poland, it also called for imprisonment for abortion as well as for miscarriage, and including for providing any assistance to have an abortion.
Marta Lampert, head of Polish Women’s Strike, reported in a press release: The government party, PiS, is allocating PLN 30 million for the Institute of Family and Demography. It is thought they will have access to all databases maintained by the state. Not only medical ones, but also those from the education system, civil registry offices, data from the police and the prosecutor’s office.
The Ministry of Health also wants to introduce a digital register of pregnancies. PiS, the government party, argues that there is nothing suspicious about it, just another step in the computerisation of the health service. Just like e-prescriptions. But the fact is it greatly extends the scope of data collected by the state.
According to a regulation of the Minister of Health, from 1 January 2022 all health care providers, public and private, would report on all pregnancies. Sensitive data in the system would also include information on contraceptive implants and IUDs, and (to give the impression of ‘taking care of our health), blood groups and allergies. In a dictatorial state, there is no room for privacy, because privacy means freedom and self-determination.
It will be easy for the state to find out who has requested emergency contraception (EC) or if a doctor has prescribed it. This government regards EC as an abortion pill and can use this information to intimidate people, e.g. perhaps a woman taking it should have her children taken away from her as a bad mother? Doctors on an even larger scale will be intimidated and avoid prescribing ‘politically incorrect drugs’.
It is difficult to imagine society’s consent to such restrictions. But no one will be asking for our consent. It will happen on a case-by-case basis – targeted each time at individuals.
Can this be stopped? On 1 December at 6 pm Women’s Strike and others went out to protest all over Poland under the slogan “Don’t ask for my blood, Poland”. They planned to meet in Warsaw in front of the Sejm, and in other cities in places of protest.
On 11 November 2021, the European Parliament sent out a press release calling on the Polish government to lift the ban on abortion, not to let any more women die because of the restrictive law, and saying that Polish women should be supported in accessing abortion services in other member states. They also called for safe, legal and free abortion services to be guaranteed!
On 28 November 2021, 45 members of the parliament of the Czech Republic sent a letter to the Polish ambassador criticising the PiS government for abortion laws that violate women’s rights. They asked them not to “deprive women of the right to receive adequate healthcare and not to participate in creating an atmosphere of fear in which women suffer”. One of the parties supporting the letter, called the Pirates in translation, have four seats in the parliament. They cooperate with the Czech pro-choice organisation Ciocia Czesia, which helps Polish women to have legal abortions in the Czech Republic, in spite of a Polish government request to the Czech government not to allow them to do so.
URGENT SOLIDARITY REQUEST:
The Polish Ministry of Health has opened a public consultation seeking opinions on collecting identifying data on pregnancy, contraceptive use, and abortion as described above, entitled:
Projekt rozporządzenia Ministra Zdrowia zmieniającego rozporządzenie w sprawie szczegółowego zakresu danych zdarzenia medycznego przetwarzanego w systemie informacji oraz sposobu i terminów przekazywania tych danych do Systemu Informacji Medycznej
(Draft ordinance of the Minister of Health amending the ordinance on the detailed scope of medical event data processed in the information system and the method and dates of transferring such data to the Medical Information System)
PLEASE WRITE TO the Polish Ministry of Health before 6 December
Expressing opposition to collecting these data as a gross violation of the right to privacy, the right to health and right to life. The bona fide collection of health data by governments should always be anonymous. The Polish government is seeking to criminalise a huge proportion of girls and women. Far from supporting family life or encouraging people to have more children, they will be destroying families and hurting children.
Polish advocates say international comments are very important.
Letter from the Campaign: To the Ministry of Health, Poland: I am writing on behalf of the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion with over 1,600 international, regional, national and local members in 132 countries in all world regions – including international NGOs and agencies, regional networks, national civil society groups, health professionals, policymakers, legal and human rights experts, academics, scientists, researchers, young women’s groups and many others – to express our grave concern that you are even considering collecting identifying data on all the girls and women in your country who use contraception, get pregnant and have abortions and miscarriages.
It is obvious, considering the vicious anti-women stance of your current government, that this is not to obtain better data, or to digitise your system, or to support families. The purpose is obviously to imprison, criminalise, harass, and violate the right to privacy of a large proportion of the female population. If you think this will encourage women (or their husbands and partners) to have more children, think again. It will have the opposite effect. Instead, it will destroy the trust of the population in your government for a long time to come. If you really are a Ministry of HEALTH, you would never put forward such a proposition.
International Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 Article 12: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Please withdraw the proposal now. In solidarity with the women of Poland, Marge Berer.& pp. International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion
STOP PRESS ?
We heard that the Netherlands approved the use of state funds to help Polish women get abortions, but it may not (yet?) be true
On 24 November 2021, according to a report in Notes from Poland which was circulating widely in the Netherlands, the Dutch parliament adopted a resolution approving the use of state funds to help Polish women obtain abortions in the Netherlands – by an overwhelming majority of 111 out of the chamber’s 150 members. The money, it was said, would come from a fund already used to support vulnerable groups abroad, including providing women with access to safe abortion procedures.
However, another source in an email on 2 December, said that this has not yet been approved in fact. Watch this space.
INITIAL SOURCE: Notes from Poland, 25 November 2021