Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights : Letter to the Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki

SUBJECT: Call to uphold the health rights of girls and women, and citizens to access accurate information and comprehensive sexual education in Poland 

Honourable Mateusz Morawiecki, Prime Minister of Poland, 

As Members of the Parliament from across political parties, we wish to express our deepest concern about the recent deaths of two Polish women caused by the de-facto abortion ban in Poland. 

We are appalled that Polish authorities used the COVID-19 pandemic and general lockdown to illegally achieve2 its objective to limit women`s reproductive health and therefore their human dignity. Thousands of Polish women already clearly expressed their strong opposition to the de-facto abortion ban to further restrict the country’s abortion law during the so-called Black Protests of 2016 and 2020. Therefore, the Polish government should take full responsibility for the recent death of two Polish women. 

The current de facto abortion ban which already caused two confirmed deaths, continues to seriously damage women’s health and lives and violates Poland’s international human rights obligations. It bans abortion in situations where there is a severe foetal anomaly, one of only three legal grounds for termination of pregnancy available in a country that has one of Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws in the world. The health and human rights implications for women living in countries with such restrictive laws are severe. 

Many women who decide to end pregnancy either travel to another country to obtain safe and legal abortion services or undergo illegal clandestine abortions at home and often risk their lives during these unsafe procedures. Some women are left with no choice but to carry pregnancy to term against their will. Even in those limited circumstances where abortion is legal in Poland, women still face barriers. Particularly, in several regions in Poland, women are often unable to obtain an abortion due to refusals of care by doctors. The ban damages women’s equality, dignity, autonomy, and bodily integrity, restricting their access to information and denying them essential health care, as well as exposes them to forms of cruel and inhuman treatment. 

We urge the Polish Parliament to respect the right of women to make autonomous decisions about their own bodies and reproductive functions, which are at the very core of their fundamental right to equality and privacy concerning intimate matters of physical and psychological integrity. We also condemn the shift in Poland towards misinforming young people, and stigmatising and banning sexuality education. We call on the Polish authorities to withdraw the illegal abortion ban3, and to refrain from recent attempts to limit sexual and reproductive rights in Poland. 

Members of the European Parliament: 

Fred Matić, MEP 

Sophie in't Veld, MEP 

Irène Tolleret, MEP