It’s been over a year since the Polish constitutional court practically banned abortion. In January, protests were held in Warsaw for Agnieszka T, who tragically died after being denied an abortion. She was carrying twins, and one of the fetus' heartbeats stopped. The doctors refused to remove the dead fetus and waited until the second one died before terminating the pregnancy. She died of presumed sepsis. (abortion-news.info)
The Constitutional Court made extreme changes to abortion laws back in October 2020, which sparked a global mass controversy. In most cases, it is legal to get an abortion in Poland only if the mother's life is in danger or the pregnancy is due to rape. There are around 1000-2000 legal abortions every year, and 90% are for fetal abnormalities (amnesty.org). Agnieszka’s life was not deemed in danger so she was unable to receive a legal abortion despite continuing her pregnancy while carrying a dead fetus.
Women in Poland have no other choice but seek help from charities, obtain illegal abortions or keep unwanted pregnancies. As the need for abortion increases, more desperate women in need of one will turn to more extreme measures.
Considering that if a pregnancy is under 12 weeks, it is easier for a woman to perform a self-managed abortion at home rather than cross a few international borders. In Poland, the act of abortion is not illegal, but to assist somebody with abortion is against the law. ‘Abortion Without Borders’ is one of the reputable global organizations that provide medical abortion pills by post to countries where abortion is against the law (asn.org.uk). An abortion pill is listed by the World Health Organisation as an essential medicine.
In 2018 91.9% of respondents in Poland belonged to the Catholic Church. (statista.com) The Roman Catholic Church states that life starts at conception and abortion is morally wrong. "You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish”, the Didache document states. This belief is evident in society and laws in Poland to this day.
As religion becomes less prominent and science advances, there is discussion as to whether the UK should amend its abortion bills. In 1990 the original twenty-four-week abortion limit was reduced because premature babies were surviving at 23-24 weeks outside of the womb. (abortionrights.org.uk)
Do global abortion laws need to change with the exceeding times?
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