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Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Abortion? Illegal? Really??

The other day Marek was watching the news when he turned to me and said 'really? is abortion legal in the UK?' I was like 'OF COURSE!!' First I thought maybe he was just confused because we'd watched Vera Drake a few days earlier and he could be thinking Britain was still in those dark days of backstreet illegal abortions... then it dawned on me. 'Marek, is abortion illegal in Poland?' 'Yes.'
Illegal, not just frowned upon, like homosexuality, or contraception, or any of the other big Catholic no-nos. I was so shocked I looked it up. Apparently abortion was legal until 1993, but then the Catholic church managed to push its anti-abortion, anti-contraceptive views into the political sphere. Everyone was rebelling against the communist regime that had so recently fallen, and the Catholic church was once again gaining strength and influence.
Actually abortions can be carried out to protect the mother's life, if the foetus is badly damaged, or if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. However, many hospitals refuse to carry out such operations. Up to 200,000 women terminate their pregnancies early each year - either by going abroad or paying for expensive illegal abortions. In the 2001 general election the party who won had promised to liberalise abortion, but then needed the support of the church to join the EU. The church said it would support the move on the condition that the anti-abortion laws remain in place. On entry to the EU a clause was added to the Treaty to ensure the anti-abortion laws would remain intact. It's unbelievable.
In February this year proposals were put forward to liberalise abortion. It was voted against 199 to 183. The proposals would have legalised abortion up to 12 weeks gestation and called for sex education to be taught as a separate subject in junior high schools.
I realise the Catholic church is an important part of Polish society nowadays, I just don't understand how such an issue can be treated in such a simplistic way.

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