Polish lawmakers today rejected a proposal by a citizens’ initiative to relax a law banning abortions, one of the most conservative in Europe.
The lower house, where the ruling Conservatives have a majority, has voted against allowing voluntary abortions until the twelfth week of pregnancy. A total of 265 deputies voted against the relaxation of the law, 175 were in favor, while there were four abstentions.
Women’s rights activist Martha Lebard tabled the bill, which garnered more than 200,000 signatures, stressing that it would align Polish law “with criteria across Europe and the world”.
The law banning abortions in Poland became even stricter in 2020, when the Constitutional Council sided with the government and ruled that abortions were “unconstitutional” even in cases of severe fetal deformity.
Abortion is currently banned in Poland with the exception of rape and incest, as well as if the life or health of the mother is endangered.
The Polish government had justified its decision to tighten the legal framework, saying it wanted to prevent “eugenic abortions”, ignoring reactions from women’s rights groups.
Even before the law was tightened, fewer than 2,000 legal abortions were performed each year in Poland. However, an estimated 200,000 Polish women are forced into an “illegal” abortion each year, often fleeing abroad.