Polish women have gone through difficult time in the past few weeks. Poland wants to adopt a law that forbids abortion, including for the victims of rape, sick mothers or sick unborn babies.
Women could face jail time even if they try to have an abortion in other countries than Poland. The first time when I heard this, I thought it was a joke. Could this be possible in 2016 in a country from the EU? The same EU that promotes human rights? How this can be an issue in the modern times we are living?
According to the World Health Organization, there are 47,000 preventable deaths a year in countries that have anti-abortion laws or where it is difficult to access it. The number of women that undergo unsafe miscarriages is even higher: 21.6 million a year.
The lack of access to healthcare when it comes to abortion usually ends up with women seeking unsafe procedures in order to terminate it, in particular women that have limited resources. Restrictive abortion laws are not correlating with a decline in abortion rates. The only difference is the increasing number of deaths/injuries caused by unsafe medical procedures.
Apart from the health issues that comes from unsafe abortions there are a few other factors that should be taken into consideration. Guttmacher Institute outlined that unsafe miscarriages will decrease a woman’s productivity and will make it difficult for poor families and their economic status. Another aspect is that 220,000 children lose their mother on top of long-term health issues.
Between 2008 and 2015, 12 states managed to make abortion legal. Those are: Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kenya, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Monaco, Rwanda, Somalia, Spain and Uruguay. Good news, no?
At this moment, Poland has a law that makes it legal to terminate a pregnancy only in case of rape or grave diseases. What they want to do now is to make it illegal, period. No matter what are the circumstances.
Let’s be clear. The discussion is not about having abortion in cases of rape or life altering sickness legal. We have to talk about how it is normal that someone else can decide what a woman can or cannot do with her womb. If you’re against abortion don’t have one. This law is clearly a product of conservative measures and religious beliefs. So maybe this time, the rest of the world will pay attention to who they vote for and why.
There is a good aspect in this story though. Personally, I find it amazing how many people worldwide reacted to this absurd law by going in the streets to show their support. People from Georgia, Czech Republic, Romania, Norway, Iceland, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Uk, Ireland, Japan, Hungary, France, Australia, Slovakia, USA, Australia showed their solidarity in front of the Polish Embassies. And this is exactly what society needs.
This is a matter of international concern. It is time to stand up for what we believe in, no matter where we were born. The problem with women’s rights is that they are not settled. They are still at risk of being rolled back by laws like this one. Yes, we’ve made great progress towards equality between men and women but things are not equal just yet. And issues like this one represent a huge step backwards for women worldwide.
It’s time to do the right thing and take action. Change is not going to happen by itself but it’s important to remember that this can be done. We can build the society we need and want, it will just take work and time. And the time is now. We need to regroup! I stand up for Polish women!