Parliament Must Reject Polish Regressive Proposals on Sexual and Reproductive Rights – endorsed by IAW

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 Statement by Center for Reproductive rights, Geneva, endorsed  by a large number of civil society organisations.

We are deeply concerned by relentless attempts to roll back sexual and reproductive rights in Poland. On 15 and 16 April Poland’s Parliament will again debate two draft bills that would severely limit access to safe abortion care and would criminalize the provision of sexuality education. If enacted into law these bills would place women’s and adolescents’ health and well-being at risk and violate Poland’s international human rights obligations.

We call on Members of Poland’s Parliament to reject these regressive legislative proposals. Under international human rights law measures that undermine or restrict existing rights are not permitted and violate the obligations of states to ensure ever greater protection of human rights.

The first draft bill known as “Stop Abortion” seeks to further limit the already highly restricted access to abortion in Poland. Poland has one of Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws. Abortion is only permitted to safeguard the life or health of women, in situations of severe or fatal foetal impairment or where the pregnancy results from rape or another criminal act. Even in those situations in which abortion is legal, multiple barriers combine to severely limit access to care in practice. As a result, most women in Poland who need abortion care travel to other jurisdictions to access safe and legal care or obtain abortion medication from medical professionals in other countries. Limitations on travel and transport imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic now compound the negative impacts of Poland’s highly restrictive law and will increase the threats to women’s health and well-being.

The second draft bill known as “Stop Pedophilia” seeks to introduce criminal penalties for providing any form of sexuality education and evidenced-based information on sexual and reproductive health and rights to adolescents. Poland already does not provide comprehensive sexuality education as required by international human rights and the bill will expose adolescents to risks to their health and make them vulnerable to exploitation.

In recent years there have been repeated attacks on reproductive rights in Poland and multiple attempts have been made to introduce total or near total bans on abortion. The government has in the past backed down from rolling back reproductive rights in the face of massive public protests, such as the Black Protests in 2016. However, in the context of restrictions on movement imposed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic such public protests against these bills cannot take place. We express our solidarity with Polish civil society during this difficult time.

Prohibiting access to safe, legal abortion care and criminalizing the provision of sexuality education violate a number of human rights enshrined in international law, including the rights to life, health, non-discrimination and equality, privacy, information, education, and freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Numerous international human rights mechanisms have repeatedly called on Poland to reform its abortion law to ensure access to safe and legal abortion and to remove all barriers to abortion care. They have also called on Poland to provide mandatory, age-appropriate, evidence-based and scientifically accurate comprehensive sexuality education across the education system.

Abortion Rights Campaign, Ireland

Abortion Support Network

AIDOS, Associazione italiana donne per lo sviluppo, Italy

AIED – Associazione Italiana per l’Educazione Demografica, Italy

Alliance for Choice, Northern Ireland

Amnesty International

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Asia Safe Abortion Partnership

ASPEKT, Slovakia

Associação para o Planeamento da Família, Portugal

Association Défense de la Démocratie en Pologne

Association for Human Rights and Civic Participation PaRiter, Croatia

Association HERA XXI, Georgia

Association of Accredited Clinics for the IVE in Spain (ACAI)

Association of Women of Southern Europe (AFEM)

ASTRA Network

Balance Promoción para el Desarrollo y Juventud AC, Mexico

Catholics for Choice

Center for Civic Initiatives “Intelligence of Sumy Region”, Ukraine

Center for Reproductive Rights

Center for Research on Environment, Health and Population Activities (CREHPA), Nepal

CESI – Center for Education, Counselling and Research, Croatia

Charitable Fund All-Ukrainian League Legalife

Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment, Ireland

Community Center New Generation, Ukraine

Concord Research Center for Integration of International Law in Israel

Corps écrits, Belgium

Creación Positiva, Spain

Democracy Development Center, Ukraine

Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)

Doctors for Choice Malta

Doctors for Choice UK

Dziewuchy Berlin, Germany

ECPI-Euroregional Center for Public Initiatives, Romania

European Alternatives

European Women Lawyers Association

Fédération des Centres de Planning Familial des Femmes Prévoyantes Socialistes, Belgium

Feminism UA, Ukraine

Feminist Association Unioni, Finland

Feminist Fightback

Femmes et Santé asbl., Belgium

Femmes Prévoyantes Socialistes, Belgium

Finnish League for Human Rights

FOKUS – Forum for Women and Development, Norway

Fondo de Aborto para la Justicia Social MARIA, Mexico

Freedom of Choice/ Možnosť voľby, Slovakia

Fundació Aroa, Spain

Furia vzw, Belgium

GenPol – Gender & Policy Insights

GPES, Ukraine

HERA – Health Education and Research Association from North Macedonia

Hivpoint, Finland

Human Rights Center ZMINA, Ukraine

ILGA-Europe

International Alliance of Women

International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion

International Commission of Jurists

International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network

International Women’s Health Coalition

Ipas Development Foundation, India

Kazakstan Association on Sexual and Reproductive Health (KMPA)

Kharkiv, Centre of the Gender Culture, Ukraine

Kherson oblast center «Successful Woman», Ukraine

Kherson regional center “Successful women,” Ukraine

KULU – Women and Development, Denmark

La Voix des Femmes, Belgium

Le Planning Familial, France

Lleisiau Merched Cymru / Women’s Voice Wales

Marie Stopes International

National Council of Women of Ukraine

National platform for reproductive justice, Croatia

National Women’s Council of Ireland

NGO “FeminismUA”, Ukraine

PATENT Association, Hungary

Pro-choice, rete italiana contraccezione e aborto, Italy

Profamilia, Colombia

Resistanta, Ukraine

Rutgers, Netherlands

safe2choose

Santé Sexuelle Suisse, Switzerland

Sensoa, Belgium

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Platform (SRHRP), Turkey

Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition

SMARTA, Ukraine

Societatea de Planificare a Familiei din Moldova (SPFM)/Family Planning Association of Moldova

Society for Education on Contraception and Sexuality, Romania

Society Without Violence NGO, Armenia

The European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health (ESC)

The International Federation for Professionals in Abortion and Contraception (FIAPAC)

The National Council of Women of Finland

The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU)

Ukrainian Association for Research in Women’s History

UN Women Finland

Union Women Center, Georgia

University Women of Europe

Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights

Voice for Choice – L-għażla tagħha (Malta)

Vrouwenraad, Belgium

WIDE+ (Women In Development Europe+)

Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways, Turkey

Women on Waves, Netherlands

Women on Web, Netherlands

Women´s Link Worldwide, Spain

Women’s Information Consultative Center, Ukraine

Women’s Resource Center, Armenia

Women’s Rights Foundation, Malta

Women’s rights protection league “Harmony of equals”, Ukraine

Zaporizhzhia charitable foundation “Unity” for the Future,” Ukraine

Zhiva-Ya, Ukraine

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