Is abortion on-demand coming to Poland?

Polish PM Donald Tusk has said his party will introduce legislation on abortion on-demand

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
Donald Tusk as an opposition leader takes part in a massive protest in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, against Poland's restrictive abortion law. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

The leader of the left-liberal government in Poland, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, said on Wednesday that his party will propose legislation to liberalize a near-total abortion ban.

He also said his government will propose legislation to ease restrictions on the morning-after pill, which, if adopted, would reverse the previous administration’s policies.

But both bills face an uphill battle in the parliament, and it is unclear if they will garner enough support to pass. Both bills may also be vetoed by President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Abortion became further restricted in Poland in 2020, after Poland’s top court, the Constitutional Tribunal, ruled that eugenic abortions involving Down syndrome and other such cases were incompatible with the right to life. This means that termination is currently legal only if pregnancy results from sexual assault or incest, or threatens the life or health of the mother.

This led to mass protests and was a significant factor in the October elections, which saw a center-left coalition come to power.  

“We are ready to submit a bill to the parliament in the coming hours on legal and safe abortion up to the 12th week,” Tusk told reporters on Wednesday.

Two of the three political groups in his coalition, the Left and the Civic Platform led by Tusk, have abortion liberalization in their party programs. But the third coalition member, the centrist Third Way, is opposed to abortion on-demand and would rather see a referendum to determine the future legislative outcome. 

Earlier on Wednesday, Tusk announced plans to also ease restrictions on the “morning-after” pill, which was made prescription-only by the previous government. He said a proposal that aims to provide over-the-counter access to the pill from the age of 15 will be sent to parliament.

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