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Polish MPs to review proposals to relax abortion law

15.04.2024 10:30
Amid heated debate, the Polish parliament has established a special lower-house committee to examine four proposed abortion bills following a series of discussions and votes that revealed deep divisions within the legislature.
Photo:PAP/Jacek Turczyk

Attempts by the main right-wing opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party and the far-right Confederation group to dismiss the proposals outright did not garner enough support.

This development occurs in a context where Poland's abortion laws are among the strictest in Europe.

The PiS-backed Constitutional Tribunal's 2020 decision to invalidate the provision for abortions in cases of severe fetal defects led to nationwide protests, significantly impacting the country's political and social landscape.

The outcome of the committee's review and the ongoing legislative process will likely be a critical chapter in Poland's contentious debate over abortion rights.

The proposals were put forth by various political groups, including the Left , the liberal Civic Coalition and the centre-right Third Way, which is composed of the rural-based Polish People's Party (PSL) and the Poland 2050 group.

During last week's sessions, the lower house, the Sejm, debated and voted on the proposed bills, which ranged from partially decriminalizing abortion actions to reinstating legal conditions that existed prior to the 2020 ruling.

The Left's proposal, which survived the first vote, seeks to decriminalize terminating pregnancies up to the 12th week with the woman’s consent and in cases of severe fetal impairment or incurable disease.

Another proposal from the Left guarantees the right to terminate a pregnancy up to the 12th week and beyond under certain conditions, while also further addressing issues of conscience and decriminalization.

The Third Way's proposal aims to restore the legal status quo which stood before the 2020 ruling.

The Civic Coalition's proposal also supports the right to abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy.

All these proposals have now been forwarded to the newly formed special committee for further discussion.

The creation of the committee has sparked a vibrant debate within the lower house, with lawmakers expressing diverse views on the matter.

Przemysław Wipler of the Confederation criticized the committee as a waste of taxpayer money, predicting that all proposals would ultimately be vetoed by President Andrzej Duda due to constitutional conflicts.

In contrast, house Speaker Szymon Hołownia emphasized the importance of parliamentary debate over brawling in the streets.

"This is why parliaments were invented, to discuss such matters," he asserted.

Anna Maria Żukowska from the Left argued that the creation of the committee will be an opportunity to discuss abortion in society.

Deputy Urszula Pasławska, representing the PSL in the special committee, thanked everyone who, despite different views, voted for the committee's establishment.

"We have an interesting discussion ahead of us; let's move forward and prepare a law that will quickly and effectively guarantee the right to dignity for Polish women," she said.


Source: IAR, PAP