Anti-abortionist stirs up protest in Poland

A speech by a US pro-life activist at a university in the Polish city of Lublin has triggered a public outcry: Rebecca Kiessling, who was conceived through a rape and raised by a foster family, delivered a speech at the invitation of the Catholic University of Lublin while students demonstrated outside. Should radical anti-abortionists be allowed to speak at Polish universities?

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Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Pure propaganda

An event like the one featuring Kiessling has no place in Polish universities, feminist Magdalena Środa rails in Gazeta Wyborcza, citing arguments put forward by the pro-life activist:

“'You can forgive the rapist for his sins' and 'God wants every child to be born'. What Kiessling doesn't explain, however, is just why God lets rapists play a role in his plan. Belief plays a significant role in her appearances, as does an ideology that denies women any right to dignity or autonomy. Kiessling isn't an academic or a scientist, she has no funding of her own and doesn't carry out research. She appears at universities as a paid speaker. Even [the Catholic think tank] Ordo Iuris, which invited her, only did so in a roundabout way through a student organisation. Because it knows this visit is pure propaganda.”

Gość Niedzielny (PL) /

Everyone must be allowed to have their say

If advocates of gender research are allowed to speak at Polish universities then a pro-life activist like Kiessling should be allowed to do the same, the Catholic magazine Gość Niedzielny argues:

“Representatives of Gender Studies also give lectures at Polish universities - and are paid with Polish taxpayers' money for doing so, despite the fact that no one checks whether these pseudo-scientists are really competent in their subject. But of course it goes without saying that they are because a few of their know-it-all peers have confirmed this. And the students who have to listen to their talk are wasting their time. … Representatives of Gender Studies and others are actually obliged to speak at universities, yet now they want to ban Kiessling from doing this?”