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All four bills liberalising abortion law in Poland cleared by Sejm for further discussion

13.04.2024 06:00
Four bills (two from The Left and one each from the Civic Coalition and Third Way) have overcome their first parliamentary obstacle - votes to reject them in their first reading. They will now all be discussed by dedicated parliamentary committees. 
Voting in the Sejm on 4 bills designed to liberalise abortion law.
Voting in the Sejm on 4 bills designed to liberalise abortion law. Photo: X/KancelariaSejmu

Four bills concerning abortion were discussed in the Polish lower house (the Sejm) on Friday. The Sejm rejected attempts to block the further passage of the bills in all cases. 

The Left submitted two bills to the Sejm: 1. Making abortion legal and available "on demand" up to 12 weeks and 2. decriminalising the facilitation of abortion (the woman who aborts the pregnancy is already exempt from criminal law). 

The largest ruling coalition partner Civic Coalition proposed a bill covering "abortion on demand up to 12 weeks". 

The centre-right Third Way (itself an alliance of PSL and Poland 2050) made the most modest proposal: to revert to the previous law popularly but controversially known as the "abortion compromise". This was a restrictive law that nevertheless permitted abortion in cases where the foetus shows signs of serious disability or threat to life. Third Way proposes to follow this interim solution with a referendum.   

All four bills won their respective votes to pass to the next stage of legislation - discussion in committees. The voting was very close and almost identical for the Left's bills and Civic Coalition's with around 50% in favour and 45% against. Third Way's more conservative bill won some cross-party support, passing its first vote with almost 56% to 39%. 

The current opposition leaders, Law and Justice, expressed their willingness to discuss Third Way's bill. Former prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki in particular indicated his interest in a limited liberalisation of current law.   

Poland (anti)abortion law is among the strictest in the world, only permitting abortion in cases where the mother's health is at risk or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest:

Sources: Rzeczpospolita, PAP, X, Wyborcza.pl