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Polish women table liberal abortion legislation

A Polish women’s rights groups on Monday submitted a draft law to parliament to liberalise the EU nation’s restrictive abortion law, a move bound to fail in the conservative-dominated lower house.

“We can’t allow the voice of the liberal part of society, that of freedom and women’s rights, not to be heard,” Barbara Nowacka, a left-wing politician and women’s rights activist, told reporters.

The Save Women group collected more than 400,000 signatures backing the citizens’ draft legislation that Nowacka says would “give women the right to decide (on termination) until the 12th week of pregnancy” without restrictions.

Poland, a devoutly Catholic EU country of 38 million people, has one of the EU’s most restrictive abortion rules.

Passed in 1993, it bans all terminations unless there was rape or incest, the pregnancy poses a health risk to the mother or the foetus is severely deformed.

A citizens’ group calling itself the Stop Abortion Committee said last week it has already collected 200,000 signatures to send a draft law banning eugenic abortion to parliament.

Eugenic abortion refers to terminations carried out to eliminate potentially defective foetuses, often in pregnancies where Down syndrome has been detected during pre-natal screening.

Poland’s conservative Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, whose Law and Justice (PiS) party dominates parliament, has already said she supports moves to ban eugenic abortion.

Last year the PiS also tried to tighten the already restrictive abortion law, but buckled under pressure from tens of thousands of black-clad women who protested nationwide.

The parliament wound up rejecting a controversial bill that would have allowed abortions only if the woman’s life was at risk and increased the maximum jail term for practitioners from two years to five.

But earlier this year the PiS pushed through a new law limiting access to the morning-after pill by making the contraception method available only by prescription, while previously it could be bought over the counter by people 15 and older.

Poland sees fewer than 2,000 legal abortions a year, but women’s groups estimate that another 100,000 to 150,000 procedures are performed illegally or abroad.

 

Source : AFP

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