Abortion Backlash! The significance of 22nd October 2020 for Poland and the world

Date, time: 20th November 2020, 14.00-15.15

Place: Zoom

22nd October 2020 was a momentous day for abortion rights. In Poland, in Europe and globally.

On that day, the Constitutional Tribunal of Poland ruled that abortion is illegal, and in violation of human dignity in cases where the foetus has a ‘disability or incurable illness’. This decision virtually prohibits abortion in the country. Poland already had one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe, and 98% of all terminations carried out in recent years were done on the basis of foetal malformation. This case is also part of the highly contested judicial reforms and a long fight between the government and the citizens on abortion rights.

On the same day, 32 countries signed the Geneva Consensus Declaration on ‘Promoting Women’s Health and Strengthening the Family’, where they explicitly stated that ‘there is no international right to abortion’. While emphasizing the promotion of equal rights for women, the preservation of human life, and the need for universal health coverage, the declaration in fact goes against existing international commitments regarding reproductive health and rights. Countries from all continents sponsored the declaration: the USA, Brazil, Hungary, Egypt, Uganda, Indonesia, and Poland was among the first to sign.

Was it coincidental that these two events happened on the same day? Are they related? And if so, how?

In this webinar, Neil Datta (Secretary of the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development) will explain the background for these events and the consequences, in conversation with Marta Wysocka (Orkidé Bergen – Solidarity with Polish Women in Bergen) and Karolina Więckiewicz (Aborcyny Dream Team). Chaired by Alida Steigler (LawTransform, CMI-UiB).

Neil Datta is the Secretary of the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development, a network of parliamentarians from across Europe who are committed to protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights. He has nearly twenty years’ experience in the field of political involvement in population and development and has conducted in-depth research on anti-choice activity in Europe. He is also a LawTransform affiliate and part of the Legitimacy Challenges project.

Marta Wysocka, is a co-founder of Orkidé Bergen (Solidarity with Polish Women in Bergen), together with Monika Dentalé, and Anna Sambor. Orkidé Bergen is an advocacy group supporting women’s rights in Poland, and a platform for communication about events, demonstrations, workshops etc.

Karolina Więckiewicz is an activist, and a lawyer who provides legal advice at the Polish Aborcyny Dream Team  – a charity foundation helping women get information on abortion, educating and supporting those in need. They’re also endorsed and supported by many organizations and the main movement called Strajk Kobiet (polish women on strike).