WAS statement about limitations of abortion rights in Poland
4th April 2018
Alarming news reports are coming from Poland this week about the right and access to abortion. Right to abortion is being challenged at the national Parliament. At the initiative of the Catholic Church, the Members of Parliament are asked to discuss and vote a new bill that will restrict and prohibit the already limited situations for which abortion is authorized in Poland. The procedure is authorized only if the life of the fetus is at risk or if there is a grave threat to the health of the mother or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. This is one of the most limiting abortion laws in Europe. In Poland abortion was legalized in 1956, and until 1993, Poland had one of the most liberal abortion laws in Europe. It is estimated that at least one in four Polish women have had an abortion.
Members of Parliament from the governing Law and Justice Party are making a renewed attempt to outlaw these laws, even when there are negative prognoses for the fetus. The latest legislation project would allow procedures in cases where the mother’s life is at risk or the pregnancy resulted from a crime, but would ban abortions of fetuses with congenital disorders. This new attack would be in contradiction with Poland’s obligations under international human rights law. On Friday March 23rd thousands of women and men demonstrated against this restrictive proposal.
The World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) denounces the attacks against women’s rights and reaffirms its support for the sexual and reproductive rights of women. Article 12 of the WAS Declaration of Sexual Rights (2014) states that everyone has the right to make reproductive decisions on their own terms, and this right includes unobstructed access to sexual health services, including safe abortions.
Beyond the clear violation of human rights recognized by international statutes concerning sexual and reproductive health and rights and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, WAS considers that obstacles to safe abortion will result in an increase of illegal and unsafe abortions, causing serious harm to women. Unsafe abortion is one of the major causes of maternal mortality in many countries.
WAS is an international organization, with more than one hundred member organizations across the globe, that promotes and advocates for sexual health and sexual rights throughout the lifespan and across the world by advancing sexuality research, comprehensive sexuality education, and clinical care and services for everyone.