Women’s rights activists in Poland used red paint to symbolize blood as they protested against a government plan on Tuesday to record every pregnancy in a national database and as parliament prepares to debate the issue. ‘a new proposal to further restrict abortion.
Activists fear the database will allow right-wing Polish authorities to determine whether pregnancies end in childbirth and create a possible tool for prosecution. The health minister recently denied this, saying there was “no pregnancy registry” and the government was simply switching from paper files to digital files.
Poland last year curtailed its already conservative abortion law and abortions are now only allowed in cases of rape or incest, or if a woman’s life or health is in danger.
In practice, Polish women travel abroad to have an abortion in other European countries, including the Netherlands and Slovakia, and there are groups that assist them.
“This is a full-fledged war against women in Poland,” said Marta Lempart, leader of Women’s Strike, a women’s rights movement leading protests in Warsaw and elsewhere. in front of government buildings in recent days.
Parliament is due to debate a proposal for a total ban on abortion in Poland on Wednesday, including in cases of rape and danger to a woman’s health. The Stop Abortion Bill would define a fetus as a child under the law, and if it becomes law, activists who help women get to abortion centers and women themselves. even could face years of imprisonment for murder. The sentence could range from five years to life imprisonment.
Irene Donadio, of the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s European Network, said the bill would also leave women who miscarry with criminal charges and jail terms of up to five years. She called it a “nightmare scenario for women in Poland”.
She said that in countries that treat abortion as murder, such as El Salvador, women hospitalized for miscarriages are sometimes suspected of having had an abortion, such as with an abortion pill, and can be charged by prosecutors.
“If Poland takes such a cruel decision, it would simply devastate the lives of women and families,” Donadio said.
Amnesty International on Tuesday urged Polish lawmakers to reject what it called a “sinister bill” and “the latest in a wave of cruel and discriminatory attacks on women’s human rights”.
The proposal is not the work of lawmakers but was carried by an anti-abortion foundation. In Poland, citizens’ groups can submit legislative proposals to parliament if they collect at least 100,000 signatures.
A separate legislative proposal in parliament this week would create an “Institute of Family and Demography” aimed at increasing Poland’s birth rate by limiting the number of divorces. that divorces should not be granted. The head of the agency would also have access to data on pregnancies.
It is not yet clear whether either of the legislative proposals has a chance of being adopted.