The Polish government is planning to introduce some of the most severe anti-abortion legislation in Europe. If passed, the legislation will ban abortion even if it is the result of rape, incest or if the girl in question is under fifteen years of age.
The so-called ‘black protest' took place in Warsaw today (30 September) - thousands of men and women took to the streets. The demonstration will be followed by a strike on Monday (2 October).
The European Parliament’s Social Democrat (S&D) spokesperson for gender equality Marie Arena MEP, who joined the protest, said: “Even the existing laws in Poland are some of the most restrictive in Europe. Despite some exceptions, they effectively leave thousands of women with no legal access to abortion. These new proposals go beyond this and further threaten women’s health, their fundamental rights and basic human dignity.
"The proposals would mean that a thirteen-year-old girl who has been raped by a relative would become a criminal if she terminates the pregnancy. We, as women and as Europeans, have a responsibility to stand up for the rights of girls like this. We are proud to be standing side-by-side with the thousands of Polish women and men marching here today for fundamental rights.”
Birgit Sippel MEP from the Civil Liberties committee said: “We are here this weekend to show our support for Polish citizens, for civil society and for democracy. Being part of the EU means ensuring that certain unalienable principles are respected. These are under threat in Poland. We are here today to support Polish women in their fight for their fundamental rights. The Polish parliament needs to listen to the will of the people and reject these proposals in their entirety.
“We also must not turn a blind eye to the changes already made by the Polish government. The changes to the press law and constitutional court are a threat to the independence of the media and the judiciary. This is not just the opinion of the S&D Group, this is the opinion of all independent international bodies who have looked at the issue. Poland must immediately change direction and accept the proposals put forward by the European Commission.”
Since the Prawo I Sprawiedliwość (PiS: Law and Justice Party) victory in last year’s general election, a number of concerns have been raised about the ‘rule of law’ in Poland. The actions of the new government triggered the European Commission’s ‘rule of law’ procedure.
Recent events in Poland, concerning in particular the Constitutional Court, have led the European Commission to open a dialogue with the Polish Government in order to ensure the full respect of the rule of law. The Commission considers it necessary that Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal is able to fully carry out its responsibilities under the Constitution, and in particular to ensure an effective constitutional review of legislative acts.
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