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Friday, 26 January 2018

Family Matters in Poland: New Abortion Laws

Dear hearts,

You might have observed on The Guardian or The Independent or even on BBC, that there has been quite a spotlight on Poland and the abortion law proposed in 2016. Abortion in Poland is currently illegal, except in cases of rape or when the women's life is in jeopardy, or if the foetus is damaged beyond repair (that's a bad way to put it, when you are actually talking about a human being...). In 2016, due to the proposed legislation to completely outlaw abortion, over 300.000 women went on strike and marched in the big cities throughout Poland. They protested for their loss of reproductive rights, leading the lawmakers to vote against the new law. Due to the strict rules inside Poland, Polish women often seek abortion in neighbouring countries. Currently in Poland the law states that abortion is banned except in 3 certain circumstances: a) when the women's life/health is endangered by the continuation of pregnancy; b) when the pregnancy is a result of a criminal act; c) when the fetus is seriously malformed. In order to do that, consent of a physician is required for case a) and c), while in case b) the situation must be certified by the prosecutor. Added to that one must take into consideration if the women is a minor, in that case also parental consent is needed. 
Motherhood is both a gift and a test life gives us
#DidYouKnow that until 1932 the abortion acts were banned in Poland without any exception! In 1932 the new Penal Code legalised abortion only when there were medical reasons, and for the first time in Europe, when the pregnancy resulted from a criminal act. Abortion is a controversial topic in Polish politics, and generally in Polish life. The question of an anti-Abortion amendment was one of the reasons for the split in the Law and Justice (PiS) and the creation of Prawica Rzeczypospolitej (led by Marek Jurek). In April 2016, Polish organisations proposed amended legislation to ban abortion in all cases except to save the woman's life. The bill included penalties to abortion providers with up to 5 years of imprisonment! The bill passed and was debated in Sejm, beginning 22 September 2016. The Sejm voted with majority in favour of continuing the work on the bill. If the law would have passed, the abortion law would have mirrored the restrictions present in Malta and Vatican, the 2 countries in Europe that have the hardest restrictions on abortion.
Motherhood means letting a bit of yourself go, so you may develop into something better
When it comes to the public opinion, the latest poll done on the subject of abortion (By the CBOS - Public Opinion Research Center) shows that 69% of Poles view abortion as immoral and unacceptable, 14% are ambivalent towards it and 14% view it as acceptable. Half of the Poles oppose the right to abortion but only 1 in 7 (14%) supports the complete ban. The support for abortion rights when a mother's life is in danger is almost universal: 87%. 78% believe the pregnancy should be terminated if the pregnancy threaten the future mothers health; 78% also support it if it was caused by rape or incest; 60% support it if it is known that the child would be handicapped. At the other end of the scale, about 18% think that abortions should be legal if a women does not want to have the child. 
When it comes to statistics, in Poland, the large number of abortions are illegal. Estimates of illegal abortions per year put the numbers between 10.000 and 150.000, compared to the number of legal abortions 1.000 - 2.000 cases per year. Take into consideration that the law demands the abortion should take place only within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Let me also remind you that the Law and Justice ruling party has a close relationship with the Catholic church. Catholic church still maintains quite a firm hold on Poland, as about 87% of the population declares themselves as of Catholic faith.  Of course the fact that abortions are illegal in Poland will not stop the women from ending their unwanted pregnancies. Be sure that they will travel to Slovakia or Germany to undergo the procedures denied in Poland. 
In Motherhood you grow the love for your child. It does not come as a thunder, it rather creeps upon you bit by bit... surrounding the two of you in light. 
I stand divided over this law...  I do not agree with the idea that the child is a child it when you hear his heart beat or when you deliver him. I don't believe in the idea that some feminists have, that "it's only a bunch of cells" until you hold it out into the light. You cannot dehumanize a developing fetus, a fetus is no less than a child developing and forming to get out in the open. How can a little girl or boy, growing in your womb, be not yet a human being with complete human rights? It's true, it cannot speak and say it's own mind, but he is there - inside of you - growing, developing, forming a connection with yourself! Women who do have abortions mostly suffer from guilt issues, from the "What if?" questions that Mark their life. I am aware of the reproductive rights: men should use condoms, women can use sterilets/pills. There is the choice of getting pregnant or not. Of course all of them are not 100% safe, but if you want to be safe and never have children there is an option for that as well... On the other side... women should have the right to say what happens to their own bodies. A pregnancy is a test for each women and forcing a women to go to term with a pregnancy that would harm her or the baby, or in the case you know for sure the baby is handicapped, in the case where you might have a single mum with low capital and no help... would you let them both struggle further on in their misery? It's a tough choice! One I wish noone would need make. 
Through Motherhood you learn a different type of Joy. Being Joyful through the eyes of your child, experiencing the world with a clean slate...
And just for the reference... according to a 2015 UN report, Poland has among the lowest access to contraceptive methods in Europe! There are less than a half of women using a modern method of contraception! If a lady wants birth control without a long wait, you must pay for an appointment in a private clinic. Not all people have this benefit, as I do - working in a corporate environment - to have both public and private sector coverage. The appointments are not cheap - max 400 zloty + around 120 zloty for a 3 month supply of pills. The new law that came to effect July 2017 is quite ironic... The emergency contraceptive pill ellaOne (the most popular after pill in Poland, that was available over the counter) now requires a prescription VS. Viagra, that has just recently been made available without prescription. Oh, isn't life fair and equal between the 2 sexes! NOT!
Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Life

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