Poland: Parliament begins debate on abortion, ruling coalition remains divided

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WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish MPs began examining bills on Thursday on liberalizing access to abortion, a campaign promise by Prime Minister Donald Tusk which, however, divides the ruling pro-European coalition.

Women’s rights are at the heart of societal debates in Poland, where the previous ultraconservative Law and Justice (PiS) government introduced a near-total ban on abortion in 2021.

According to current law, Polish women are only allowed to have an abortion in cases of rape, incest or danger to the woman’s health or life. Termination of pregnancy due to fetal malformation is prohibited.

Since coming to power last October, the broad coalition supporting Donald Tusk, which includes both left-wing and Christian Democratic political parties, has already restored public funding for in vitro fertilization and voted to change the rules governing in vitro fertilization. access to the “morning after pill”.

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The government parties, however, differ on the conditions of access to abortion, while Donald Tusk had promised during the electoral campaign to reverse the restrictions introduced by the PiS.

Political observers say Poles’ dissatisfaction with PiS’s abortion law was one of the reasons for record turnout in the October elections that brought the opposition to power.

“The atmosphere is tense because this is a subject on which the coalition partners do not agree,” Szymon Holownia, speaker of the Diet, the lower house of the Polish Parliament, told reporters on Wednesday. of the Christian Democratic Party Poland 2050, partner of the Civic Coalition (KO) of Tusk.

Thursday’s debate focuses on three bills, each introduced by one of the coalition’s three groups: two of them would legalize unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, and the other would restore the right to abortion in the event of fetal anomaly, thus returning to the situation that prevailed before the Constitutional Court banned this procedure in 2020.

According to a recent Ipsos poll, 62% of Poles are in favor of abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, could, however, veto any changes to the legislation.

(Reporting Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Karol Badohal and Pawel Florkiewicz; French version Diana Mandiá, edited by Sophie Louet)


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