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Poland finalizes legislation to allow OTC access to morning-after pill

24.01.2024 15:00
The Polish government is moving forward with significant healthcare legislation, with Prime Minister Donald Tusk announcing the completion of the government's work on a bill regarding the morning-after pill.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara

The bill, aimed at increasing access to emergency contraception, is set to be presented to the Sejm, Poland’s lower house of bicameral parliament, for further deliberation.

In a meeting of the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, a draft amendment to the Pharmaceutical Law was discussed, focusing on making the morning-after pill, specifically the brand ellaOne, available without a prescription.

Tusk specified that the availability of the morning-after pill without a prescription would be for individuals aged 15 and upwards. This decision represents a significant shift in Poland's approach to reproductive health, particularly in the context of the country's previous government's stringent anti-abortion laws.

Under the previous government, Poland had some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Since the Law and Justice party came to power in 2015, there have been several attempts to further limit reproductive rights.

For instance, a proposed bill in 2016 aimed to ban abortion except to save the woman's life, which included criminal penalties for abortion providers. However, this bill faced significant public opposition and was not passed.

In October 2020, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal ruled that abortion on “eugenic grounds,” that is due to f abnormalities, was unconstitutional, which effectively tightened the already stringent abortion laws. This ruling led to the largest public protests in decades, spearheaded by women's rights defenders. The decision was widely criticized by human rights groups and members of the European Parliament.

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Source: PAP, IAR