Total abortion ban in Poland overturned

In the wake of mass protests in Poland the country's parliament has spoken out against a bill for a total ban on abortion. The PiS majority government had previously supported the bill. Conservative Polish media vent their anger at the government's betrayal. Others are relieved that the pressure from the street has won out in the end.

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Gość Niedzielny (PL) /

Governing party betrays its voters

The failure of the total abortion ban is unacceptable for PiS supporters, the Catholic portal Gość Niedzielny fumes:

“It has been a long time since the Polish parliament was the scene of such a festival of lies, cynicism and contempt for voters as the one displayed by PiS politicians over the past two days. First of all they voted to have the citizens' bill passed to the committees where it could have been amended. And then when more than ten thousand women went out in protest they capitulated and decided to put an end to it all. ... What to call something like that? Cynicism, mockery, a farce? Certainly not an act characterised by a strong sense of responsibility.”

Der Standard (AT) /

PiS torn between the Church and the people

Poland's government has manoeuvred itself into a corner through its closeness to the Catholic Church, Der Standard observes:

“The PiS has itself to blame for the fact that an important political confrontation has escalated to such an extent. In its long-standing dispute with the Constitutional Tribunal, which it sees as a threat to its legislative powers, it has replaced the principle of separation of powers with an all or nothing discourse. … On the subject of the abortion laws, however, the Polish people have given the government a reality check - and it has been frayed by the tensions between the people and the partially reactionary Church. Unlike Hungary, Poland has a strong and dynamic civil society. A political class that believes itself in possession of the only - perhaps even divine - truth doesn't go down very well with this society. Not even in Catholic Poland.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Kaczyński facing a big mess

It was the first major domestic defeat for Jarosław Kaczyński since his national-conservative PiS party took power in Warsaw, Hospodářské noviny writes:

“Kaczyński must be furious. He was too short-sighted and let a petition presented by the ultraconservatives for a de facto complete ban on abortion go too far. It fitted in with his idea of a cultural revolution against the former liberal order. But in the end it all went too far. The citizens' bill easily made it as far as parliament. Now he has no option but to change course at the last minute. ... Much harm has been done, however. Hundreds of thousands of Poles protested, the government lost this round and all of Europe shook its head at how such a medieval law could get so far.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Warsaw clinging to outdated image of women

The abortion rate will be lowered not by criminalising abortion but by offering women real perspectives - however Poland's ruling party is not interested in doing that, Neue Zürcher Zeitung complains:

“Girls and women must be given the prospect being able to have both a family and a career on the one hand and easy access to non-moralising school education and modern contraceptive methods on the other. This is how most industrialised states have managed to reduce their abortion rates to a historical low - despite the political liberalisation in many countries. The PiS, however, is pursuing the opposite objective with its policy. The introduction of higher child benefit and the plan to lower the retirement age for women cements the traditional image of women, as well as the sexual ethics of Catholicism.”