Should Poland have more restrictive anti-abortion laws than Afghanistan or Iran?
By Dorota Głażewska
The Polish Parliament has recently rejected the bill proposal “Ratujmy Kobiety” (Save Women), and has decided to continue discussions on the barbarian legislative draft toughening the anti-abortion law and undermining fundamental women’s rights.
A few days ago a 12-year old girl gave birth to a child in Kielce. The doctors are in a state of shock. Newspapers are in a state of shock. And I am pissed off. If the bill is passed, such stories will become common occurrence, completely normal and no one should express surprise.
In Polish schools there is no sex education and young girls do not have access to gynaecological care. Even if there were a gynaecological service for girls, but the law was introduced, girls would be forced to continue with their pregnancies, and if any of the doctors tried to save them at an early stage, they could be sentenced to a few years in prison.
If an underage girl miscarries, would she face two years imprisonment or only a juvenile detention centre? Only in this year, in one hospital in Wrocław, fourteen girls have given birth – remarked Barbara Nowacka, leader of the Save Women initiative, in the Sejm (the Polish Parliament). Should Poland have more restrictive anti-abortion laws than Afghanistan or Iran?
A close friend of mine badly wanted to have a second child. Unfortunately the egg cell nested in the Fallopian tube. She spent five long weeks in hospital, where the doctors needed to induce a miscarriage through chemical means. She suffered badly, but not physically – only psychologically. Nowadays, terminating a pregnancy does not translate to tearing foetuses asunder, like in the brutal images of pro-lifers in front of the Sejm. It can be a lengthy medical process, unfortunately often without providing psychological care to the involved woman.
If the proposed law were passed, doctors wouldn’t stand a chance to intervene in order to save life.
Doctors would have to wait until the foetus poses a threat to the woman’s life, e.g. by rupturing the Fallopian tube. My friend’s second child would never have been born, she could have died, the husband could have lost his wife, and the child could have lost her mother. I’m genuinely pissed! And terrified.
Another close friend of mine is in the twelfth week of pregnancy. She received negative results of prenatal screening tests. She was very brave. If the proposed law were passed, she wouldn’t have been able to have amniocentesis (ATF). That would have been classified as invasive diagnostics, as it involves a marginal risk of miscarriage. Thus she wouldn’t have found out whether her child would be born healthy or sick and what her life would look like after it is born.
I’m a mother of a fifteen-month old boy. I gave birth to my child at the age of thirty-seven. Due to my age, I was provided with the opportunity to undergo free prenatal tests, screening the foetus for Downs syndrome, Edwards syndrome, and Patau syndrome. The first trimester was the most stressful stage of my pregnancy. Twice I ended up in hospital due to a risk of miscarriage, I stayed there bedridden for a month, waiting. After a genotyping test, twelve weeks pregnant, I left the doctor’ study crying. Those were tears of happiness that everything was fine. Had I not had the chance to undergo these tests, I don’t know if I would have plucked enough courage to get pregnant at that age and give birth.
I have a lot of friends who have given birth at an even older age. I am furious that someone wants to deprive us of the chance at happiness. The legislation proposal targets all women, their families and friends.
It is not a pro-life draft. It’s a pro-death and no future bill.
On Thursday, while protesting, I met a lot of mothers with babies in buggies and gondolas, with toddlers and slightly older children in strollers, with pre-school kids marching holding hands. We were all protesting, because we understand more and we have more experience than the men in suits currently debating in the Parliament. We’ve been through these medical procedures, the lengthy process of waiting and delivering the baby, breastfeeding and lulling to sleep. Were the bill passed, the parliament members would prove to lack elementary medical knowledge, empathy, or any contact to mothers, wives, and daughters. They would simply prove to be heartless people.
Translation from Polish by Ola Holubowicz.
Dorota Głażewska is a member of Krytyka Polityczna.
The article was originally published on PoliticalCritique.org.