Women’s human reproductive rights and lives at risk: the ETUC Women’s Committee calls for the rejection of the proposed bill currently being discussed in Poland

The ETUC Women’s Committee stands beside women from across Europe who are fighting to fulfil their rights to safe, legal and fully comprehensive reproductive healthcare.

The ETUC Women’s Committee particularly supports Polish women who are protesting against a bill, submitted through the citizens’ initiative which aims to introduce a full ban on abortion. The bill is currently being discussed in the Polish Parliament.

The Polish Bill represents an unacceptable attack to women’s rights and lives because the ban prohibits the abortion not only when the pregnancy is caused by a rape but also in cases when the pregnancy puts women’s lives at risk. The same bill aims to prohibit sexual education, which is not acceptable and detrimental for children’s development.

Elsewhere in Europe, women face many barriers, exacerbated by the current healthcare crisis, in attempting to access abortion healthcare. Across many countries, many hospitals have stopped performing abortions following governments’ decisions to postpone all planned surgeries except life-saving ones due to the risk of Covid-19 infections - effectively limiting guarantees for women to have access to safe and timely abortions during the pandemic.

Women’s rights cannot be taken for granted and genuine equality remains an objective, it is not yet a reality. Family planning and sexual and reproductive rights have often been the target of attacks, in legislation or de facto, across Europe, because women’s bodies continue to be seen as a political and ideological battlefield.

It is all the most concerning that the emergency juncture linked to the pandemic crisis is instrumentalised to try to circumvent the necessary dialogue and discussion on such a relevant matter for women and the whole society.

This should be the time for all Governments to listen to the voice of social partners including Women, certainly not to abuse the pandemic situation hampering their rights and prerogatives – especially when people cannot demonstrate against them.

The ETUC supports the women of Poland, and women across Europe, in their struggle for women’s reproductive rights and opposes all measures which try and control women’s healthcare.