FEDERA celebrates as Poland’s coalition moves to overturn abortion ban

April 2024 marked a notable juncture in Poland’s legislative landscape as the ruling coalition government took steps towards potentially reshaping the nation’s anti-abortion law.

In 2020, Poland’s Law and Justice party (PiS) banned virtually all abortions, dragging the country even further from EU standards on abortion law. Last month however, Poland’s ruling coalition, who came into power in 2023, took the first steps towards repealing this previous government’s abortion ban. Four bills which would overturn the ban were put in front of members of the lower chamber of parliament, including one which legalises abortion on request up to the 12th week of pregnancy, and a second that decriminalises abortion. Following intense deliberations, they were approved for further legislative work and discussion. It is the first time since 1996 that draft bills advocating for the legalisation and decriminalisation of abortion will progress to the second reading stage.

SRT grantee partner FEDERA, (The Foundation for Women and Family Planning) has played a crucial part in this. For over 30 years the organisation has been advocating for the rights of Polish women, striving to facilitate access to safe and legal abortion while championing the enactment of more progressive legislation.

Prior to these most recent debates in the lower houses of parliament, FEDERA made concerted efforts to garner support from MPs from the Trzecia Droga (Third Way) alliance, a coalition of the centre-right Polish People’s Party and centrist Poland 2050, aiming to sway the tide in favour of advancing all draft bills related to abortion.

While this has been years in the making, FEDERA acknowledged that “only the first stage of a long fight has been completed. There is still a lot of work, meetings, discussions, and negotiations standing in the way of liberalization of the law… We know that there are opponents of women’s rights on the parliamentary benches, and we also know that our rights are too often treated as a political bargaining chip.”

However, they added that they remain undaunted by the challenges that lie ahead, and unwavering in their resolve.

“We have decades experience in advocating for legal, safe, and accessible abortion … We will do everything in our power to stop those who disregard our needs and the voice of society. Abortion in Poland must be legal, safe, consistent with international standards, and available as part as of the national health care system… FEDERA will not rest until every person in need has systemically guaranteed access to abortion. Because we are always on the side of women.”

A second SRT grantee partner The Center for Reproductive Rights have also been working with FEDERA on this. They noted that, “this is an important first step towards aligning the law with the majority of European countries where abortion is legal on request.”

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