YES Feminist Network Coordinator Andrea Scheck: The Polish Government’s Plan to Reduce Women’s Access to the Morning-After Pill is Unacceptable

The conservative Polish government has just launched an attack on women by

passing legislation which will drastically reduce women’s access to the morning-after

pill.
The law was signed in defiance of human rights groups and political opposition, and

will make it so women will now need to make an appointment with a doctor and get a

medical prescription before being able to obtain the emergency contraception they

need. This does not mean additional costs and hassle for those affected; since the

pill’s effectiveness depends on it being taken as soon as possible, it can also lead to

unwanted pregnancies, even in the case of rape.

 

The impact will be particularly hard on young women, who might not be able to go to

the doctor alone, women without the financial means to afford a medical visit and

women living in rural areas. And since Polish doctors also have the right to refuse

treatment based on religious grounds, even women who manage to visit a doctor

might not be helped!

 

This new law is one more step of the Polish authorities to cut down women’s rights

and their self-determination as far as possible. Only last year, the country nearly

implemented a law to effectively ban women from having abortions. The

conservative plan was only stopped by mass protests from Polish female workers

across the country, who went on strike as part of the #czarnyprotest and wore all

black to mourn the feared loss of reproductive rights. Even though the law was

eventually rejected, pregnancy terminations are still subject to strong rules in Poland,

only being allowed when the life of the foetus or the mother is threatened, or when

the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. This means the fact that the new

legislation on morning-after pills will result in unwanted pregnancies is even more

horrifying.

 

Poland has once more provided us with an example of how women’s reproductive

rights are still under attack. They can not be taken for granted and we need to

continually fight for them. Nobody has the right judge the sexual lives of women

based on their own moral convictions, and any situation where a woman does not

have the right to decide upon her body is discriminatory and sexist.

We stand in solidarity with our Polish comrades and the women of Poland. With you,

we will continue to fight for women’s rights all over Europe!

 

Andrea Scheck

YES Feminist Network Coordinator

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