Abortion effectively banned: new protests in Poland

Thousands of people have gathered to protest against tighter abortion legislation and the government in recent days. Last Wednesday a Supreme Court ruling came into effect under which abortion is legal only in cases when the pregnancy is a result of a criminal act when the woman's life or health is at risk.

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Népszava (HU) /

Unquestionably a European issue

Europe doesn't seem to have understood what is going on in Poland, Népszava fumes:

“Most Polish citizens [who did not feel affected by earlier systematic violations of fundamental rights] see things differently today. Because in their families, too, there is at least one potentially affected woman - a mother, a spouse, a daughter. Would Poland have found itself in this worrying situation if the law had not been considered a 'women's issue' in the other EU member states? ... The Polish abortion law is neither a women's issue nor a Polish issue - it is a European issue and it affects us all.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

PiS dividing up the protests into manageable portions

The government published the ruling at a strategic moment, Gazeta Wyborcza comments:

“The government's goal is to separate resistance to the abortion law from public dissatisfaction over its poor management of the pandemic. Protests over the latter will break out as soon as the number of new infections decreases. ... Temporal separation is the only way it can reduce the steadily mounting wave of anti-government protest. ... No doubt the PiS's calculation is as follows: opponents of the abortion ruling will demonstrate now. Then in the spring most of them will still be against the ruling but they won't actively participate in the protests because they'll have given up on it and decided to wait for the 2023 elections instead.”

wPolityce.pl (PL) /

Where's the problem?

Things aren't as bad as people are making them out to be, wPolityce.pl argues:

“The Constitutional Court ruled that the adverse circumstances for a mother were not sufficient reason to kill a child. Serious health complications, however, remain a reason for doctors to perform abortions. The Constitutional Court also stressed that there is no law providing criminal liability for a mother who goes through with an abortion. ... All of this leads to the conclusion that the hysterical public outcry about women being forced to be heroes is not justified. Let's read the judgment carefully. It's not as cut and dry as some are making it out to be.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Doctors in a dilemma

Gazeta Wyborcza counters that the extra leeway the ruling supposedly grants is highly problematic:

“In its written explanation, the Constitutional Court states that an abortion is legal if the defects of a foetus pose a threat to the health or life of the woman. In this way the ruling party has left doctors facing a moral and legal dilemma. ... It is not just forcing women to be heroic, but medical practitioners too. The latter will be afraid to take any risks. After all, the fanatical Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro can always find an expert who is willing to state that the foetus did not pose a threat to the mother's health and accuse the doctor of having performed an illegal abortion.”