THE NEUTRAL ZONE
Poland’s highest court ruled abortions on the basis of fetal defects unconstitutional on Thursday, effectively instituting a near-total ban in the country. Alongside Poland’s already-strict abortion laws, the procedure will now only be allowed in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is endangered, which make up only about 2% of legal abortions in the country in recent years.
The ruling is permanent and cannot be appealed. The country’s ruling conservative party, Law and Justice, will propose new legislation to support women and the children that will be born as a result of the court’s ruling, according to the party’s spokeswoman.
President Andrzej Duda supported the decision, his spokesman Blazej Spychalski said: “We are expressing our satisfaction that the tribunal stood on the side of life.” Kaja Godek, a member of the “Stop Abortion” public initiative, lauded the decision, saying, “Today Poland is an example for Europe, it’s an example for the world.” The Council of Europe criticized the ruling, noting that underground and abroad abortions would likely increase for those who can afford them and those who couldn’t would face a “greater ordeal.” The Center of Reproductive rights called the ruling “a deliberate attack on women’s rights.”
Protesters in Warsaw gathered outside party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński’s home Thursday night. Kaczyński had promised repeatedly to restrict legal abortion prior to the ruling. Polish police used pepper spray and arrested 15 people. More protests are planned for cities throughout the country over the weekend, despite renewed coronavirus restrictions following a new record number of cases.
Following the ruling, Poland signed an anti-abortion declaration called the Geneva Consensus Declaration alongside over 30 countries, including the U.S. Many of the signatories are far-right or authoritarian governments, and most are among the 20 worst countries to be a woman according to Georgetown University’s Women, Peace and Security Index.
Polish woman’s quest for abortion exposes conflicted society – Reuters – 10/19/2020
In April, in the midst of a nationwide coronavirus lockdown in Poland, Katarzyna found out that the baby she was carrying had a severe genetic disorder and would probably die before birth or shortly after. She immediately decided to terminate the pregnancy. When she finally managed to, five weeks later and after meeting some 10 doctors, securing a fallback plan in Germany and researching home methods, she knew she would not try to get pregnant again. “I knew how difficult it can be to get a legal abortion in Poland, so I chose to be stubborn,” said 38-year-old Katarzyna, who lives in a small town in central Poland and already has two daughters, one of them disabled.
Violence erupts on Poland’s streets as people protest near total abortion ban – RT International – 10/23/2020
Police fired pepper spray at hundreds of demonstrators in Warsaw as they opposed a court ruling almost completely banning abortion in the country. Several hundred people gathered in front of Poland’s Constitutional Court and marched towards the residence of the Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the country’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), to protest a court decision that essentially outlaws abortion. Police used pepper spray to disperse the crowd. In response, the protesters threw rocks and attempted to break through the cordon around the house.
Trump Administration Launches Manifesto With Coalition of Anti-Choice, Anti-Equality Regimes – Right Wing Watch – 10/23/2020
During the Obama administration, U.S. foreign policy supported reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality, while resistance and backlash to those principles were being led by religious-right advocacy groups, often in partnership with the world’s most repressive regimes. But during the Trump administration, the U.S. government has been mobilizing the reactionary forces. Pompeo and Azar have been working for at least a year and a half to mobilize Thursday’s signing of the Geneva Consensus.
U.S. joins global declaration disavowing abortion as ‘human right’ – The Washington Times – 10/23/2020
The U.S. joined 31 other nations Thursday in signing a declaration that says there is “no international right to abortion.” The so-called Geneva Consensus Declaration, signed at a virtual gathering for the 2020 World Health Assembly, also espouses “equal opportunity” for women in politics and society. However, the document, which was posted Thursday to the Department of Health and Human Services’ website, criticizes abortion as an aspect of health care. […] The consensus drew swift cheers from pro-life groups, including the conservative legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom.