Poland’s government will discuss a very controversial proposal this week that would essentially tighten the abortion laws in the country.
Women’s rights groups from the country and opposition politicians are warning that the country’s conservative government is trying to use the distraction of the COVID-19 pandemic to push through the legislation.
Even though Poland already has some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe, there have been previous attempts to further tighten the laws. However, they were abandoned after mass protests in 2016.
The proposal has been put back on the table from a ‘citizen initiative’, and president Andrzej Duda said that he would sign the law if it reaches his desk.
Barbara Nowacka, an opposition MP who was very active in the 2016 protests said that this is the best time for the conservative government to pay the debts they have to ultra-conservative groups, and the opposition is really afraid that they will use the fact that Polish citizens are really focused on their future and health right now, and not on abortion rights.
Dozens of women protested in central Warsaw on Tuesday in cars and on bicycles, and the police used megaphones to warn protesters that they risked fines for breaking lockdown regulations.
Marie Stopes International issued an estimate earlier this month that there could be as many as 3 million additional unintended pregnancies and around 2.7 million unsafe abortions in 37 countries around the world due to the coronavirus lockdown.
There have been global concerns over access to abortion during the coronavirus pandemic, and Amnesty International called on European governments last week to ease onerous administrative requirements to access abortion services.
Abortion is already illegal in Poland, except in extreme cases, and a citizens’ bill aimed to outlaw even these types of abortion back in 2016, which lead to huge protests across the country.