11 Jan 2018

Lawmakers allow abortion rights bill to collapse in Poland

A draft law from the Committee for Saving Women would have legalized abortion and provided ways to get free contraceptives and sex education. But liberal lawmakers couldn't be bothered to vote for it.

Zuzanna Piechowicz
Zuzanna Piechowicz Tok FM, Poland
Source: Tok FM
Lawmakers allow abortion rights bill to collapse in Poland - NewsMavens
Fetus at 12 weeks. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

women's issues,reproductive rights

On Wednesday, the Sejm in Poland debated two civic draft laws on reproductive rights. One, prepared by abortion opponents, bans abortion and will continue to be discussed.

The second, prepared by the Committee for Saving Women, legalizes abortion and includes access to free contraceptives or sex education. It has disappeared in the parliament. The reason? Weak mobilization of the opposition.

Some of the deputies of the right-wing ruling party, including its president, Jarosław Kaczyński, voted in favor of further discussing the draft law. This doesn't mean the project had a chance -- it likely would have been rejected in the first or third reading.

Nevertheless, the attitude of the liberal opposition is shocking. As many as 29 deputies of the largest opposition party, Platforma Obywatelska, did not vote. Three deputies decided to vote against the civic bill. Ten members of the centrist party Nowoczesna also did not vote. The law project needed eight additional votes to go through.

Today, liberals in Poland are furious at the opposition parties. Social media is awash in outraged posts and lamenting that all faith in the opposition is now lost. In the MEM below, a women vomits the logos of the two biggest opposition parties: Platforma Obywatelska (PO) and Nowoczesna (N).

Even MPs such as Elzbieta Geert who openly supported the Black Protest -- a protest against a total ban on abortion --  did not vote. One of the deputies, Alicja Chybicka, wrote with disarming honesty that "I did not think that my vote had any meaning."

The fact that the conservative right wing was willing to keep discussing the draft law was a signal that they are ready for dialogue and discussion. But what about the opposition?

I wonder what the second term of the ultra-conservative Law and Justice will bring. After the vote on abortion, I lost faith that there is a force in Poland that can remove them from power.

Though perhaps, in this extreme situation, a new opposition will be born. And maybe, just maybe, women will be ready to take the lead.

Details from the story:

  • A civic project completely forbidding abortion was accepted for further discussion in the Polish parliament.
  • The 'Let's Save Women' project, which legalized abortion on request up to the 12th week of life, did not go through.
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