Sunday, July 3, 2022

Pregnancy in Poland, a database and anti-abortion laws

 The Lancet recently reported on new pregnancy data being collected in Poland, and controversy on whether and how it might be used in enforcing Poland's very stringent anti-abortion laws.

Poland to introduce controversial pregnancy register, by Ed Holt, Lancet,  VOLUME 399, ISSUE 10343, P2256, JUNE 18, 2022  DOI:

"A new legal provision in Poland requiring doctors to collect records on all pregnancies has been condemned by critics who fear it could create a pregnancy register to monitor whether women give birth, or track those who go abroad for abortions.

Poland has some of Europe's strictest abortion laws, with terminations allowed in only two instances—if the woman's health or life is at risk and if the pregnancy is the result of either rape or incest. Until last year, abortions had also been allowed when the fetus had congenital defects. Most legal terminations in Poland were carried out under this exemption. But this provision was removed by a constitutional court ruling following a challenge by members of the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party, which some rights activists accuse of systematic suppression of women's rights.

Rights groups and opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) say that, in light of the tightened abortion legislation, they worry that the collected pregnancy data could be used by police and prosecutors in an unprecedented state surveillance campaign against women. “A pregnancy register in a country with an almost complete ban on abortion is terrifying”, Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-BĄk, an MP for the New Left party, said. 


Here's a recent NY Times story on the implementation of Polish anti-abortion law:

Poland Shows the Risks for Women When Abortion Is Banned. Poland’s abortion ban has had many unintended consequences. One is that doctors are sometimes afraid to remove fetuses or administer cancer treatment to save women’s lives.  By Katrin Bennhold and Monika Pronczuk, Updated June 16, 2022

"Today, Poland and Malta, both staunchly Catholic, are the only European Union countries where abortions are effectively outlawed.

"The consequences in Poland have been far-reaching: Abortion-rights activists have been threatened with prison for handing out abortion pills. The number of Polish women traveling abroad to get abortions, already in the thousands, has swelled further. A black market of abortion pills — some fake and many overpriced — is thriving.

"Technically, the law still allows abortions if there is a serious risk to a woman’s health and life. But critics say it fails to provide necessary clarity, paralyzing doctors."

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