Home French News Poland: is abortion law reform imminent?, by Malgo Nieziolek (Le Monde diplomatique

Poland: is abortion law reform imminent?, by Malgo Nieziolek (Le Monde diplomatique

Poland: is abortion law reform imminent?, by Malgo Nieziolek (Le Monde diplomatique

JPEG - 159.1 kb

Our bodies! A pro-choice demonstration outside the constitutional tribunal in Warsaw, Poland, 28 January 2021

Wojtek Radwanski · AFP · Getty

Donald Tusk told a campaign rally in Gliwice (Silesia) last September, ‘Restoring Polish women’s dignity and guaranteeing their safety are at the heart of our programme.’ At the time, abortion remained almost completely banned in Poland. Tusk, who became prime minister in December, promised to establish free access to voluntary terminations of pregnancy up to the 12th week and to do away with the conscience clause for doctors in the public health system, meaning they will no longer be able to refuse to perform this procedure.

Tusk, also prime minister from 2007 to 2014, had nonetheless told the 2013 Women’s Congress in Warsaw he opposed the liberalisation of the ‘compromise’, one of Europe’s most restrictive pieces of abortion legislation, introduced in 1993 to satisfy the all-powerful Catholic Church and further toughened by the ultraconservative Law and Justice Party (PiS), which ran the country from 2015. Since then, feminist protests had shaken the country, but failed to bring legislative progress.

Donald Tusk’s return as prime minister had looked a near-certainty since last October’s elections. The PiS received the largest share of the vote – 35% – but a coalition of three opposition parties – the liberals of Tusk’s Civic Platform (centre-right), the Christian democrat Third Way and the social democrats of the Left – won a majority of seats (248 out of 460). With a record 74% turnout (up from 61% in 2019), women voters played a key part: 56% of them backed one of the coalition parties; only 36% voted for the PiS.

Their votes have shattered the abortion ‘compromise’ which had kept Poland at odds with the direction of travel in most European countries. It’s a stance deeply rooted in the past. As in Greece and Ireland, religion in Poland helped preserve a national consciousness when these countries were subsumed into larger political entities: the Muslim Ottoman Empire, the Protestant United Kingdom and Orthodox Russia. When a social movement in Poland (…)

Full article: 1 876 words.

This article can be read by subscribers

(1Joanna Mishtal, The Politics of Morality: The Church, The State, and Reproductive Rights in Postsocialist Poland, Ohio University Press, Athens, 2015.

(2Jacek Hołub, ‘Rydzyk pomógł PiS jak mógł’ (Rydzyk helped PiS as much as he could), Gazeta Wyborcza, Warsaw, 15 October 2019.

(3Michał Wilgocki, ‘Urodziny Radia Maryja. Kaczyński: Każda ręka podniesiona na Kościół to ręka podniesiona na Polskę’ (Birthday of Radio Maryja. Kaczyński: Every hand raised against the Church is a hand raised against Poland), Gazeta Wyborcza, 5 December 2015.

(5‘Abortion up to the twelfth week of pregnancy’, survey conducted by the Polish Institute for Public Affairs Research, 25 July 2023, www.stanpolityki.pl/.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here