This Country's Government Wants To Restrict Abortion Access

Photo: Getty
The United States isn't the only place where women are on the front lines of the fight over abortion access. Thousands flooded the streets of Warsaw Sunday, following news that Poland Prime Minister Beata Szydło is backing the country's Catholic Church, in a call for tighter abortion laws.

Poland's current laws on pregnancy termination are similar to those in Ireland: A women can access abortion up to 25 weeks only when her life is in danger, there was a "criminally proven" rape or case of incest, or the fetus is "seriously malformed," according to the Guardian.

However, Catholic churches and the government are now proposing a reform that will rule out abortion altogether. Under the change, women in Poland become pregnant as a result of rape would be required to give birth to the child. They would also be forced to give birth even when the pregnancy threatened their health.

“The life of every person is protected by the fifth of the Ten Commandments: thou shalt not kill. Therefore the position of Catholics in this regard is clear and unchanging," Poland's Bishop said in a letter on the subject released last week.

The proposal is supported by the Polish Law and Justice (PiS) party, who have been pushing a conservative agenda in the country since they came to power in October 2015, the Guardian reports.

The party also plans to end state funding for IVF and require a prescription for emergency contraceptive pills.

The calls have been met with resistance from pro-choice and liberal Poles. Women have taken to social media to post messages to the Polish prime minister, detailing their period pains and personal experiences with the hashtag "‪#‎trudnyokres‬" (meaning "difficult period").

"Since the government is so interested in what Polish women do with their bodies, now we're giving them the full story online," Julia Eriksson, a 30-year-old Polish expat told Refinery29. "This form of protest is a very Polish way of dealing with a problem — always with a twist."

Among the protestors demonstrating in the streets on Sunday were women holding coat hangers to show the lengths some may have to go to in order to seek illegal abortions, should the new legislation be passed.

"I am convinced that the majority of the Polish population is against this legislation," Eriksson said. "The average Pole does not think that a woman should give birth even though that might put her life in danger, of course not!"

Enacting the proposal, she said, would be "political suicide."

"A resistance of such scale can't simply be ignored," she said.

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