Evolution of the Abortion Law and its Practice in Poland Against the Background of the Current Legal Framework in New Zealand

Author: Eska-Mikołajewska, J
Published in National Security Journal, 05 April 2021

44 “The Constitutional Tribunal will check whether the anti-abortion act is consistent with the Constitution. In 1997, the regulations were tightened this way,” 3 November 2017. Available at https://oko.press/trybunal-konstytucyjny-sprawdzi-ustawa-antyaborcyjna-zgodna-konstytucja-1997-r-sposob-zaostrzono-przepisy/

45 These events were accompanied by a wave of protests organised by the National Women’s Strike. As of March 8, 2017, the international women’s strike which took place in 80 towns and cities continued “Black Protests” of October 2016. The next protest was held on 23 March 2018 in Warsaw. According to the data of the City Hall on Black Friday 55,000 people were present on the streets of the Polish capital (although, according to the estimates of the organisers even 90,000 people). See Aneta Ostaszewska, “Black protests – a struggle for women’s subjectivity,” Polish Journal of Educational Studies, I (LXXI) (2018), pp. 95 – 96.

46 See Law and Justice Program 2019: Polish model of the welfare state. Available at http://pis.org.pl/dokumenty

47 While in March 2016 only 14% of Poles and Polish women declared that abortion should be allowed not only in cases specified in the act, but also when a woman is in a difficult situation, in October 2016 this opinion was already expressed by 20% of respondents (CBOS 2016). In 2018, in a survey by the SW Research Agency, 46% of respondents believed that abortion should be allowed up to the 12th week of pregnancy “on demand” (OKO Press 2018). See Elżbieta Korolczuk, Beata Kowalska, Radosław Nawojski, Jennifer Ramme, Claudia Snochowska-Gonzalez, p. 23.

48 “In Poland, Protests Over Abortion Ban Could Revolutionize Politics,” 7 December 2002.

49 Section 165 (1) of the 1997 Penal Code, Journal of Laws 1997 No. 88, item 553.

50 It didn’t happen until January 27, 2021. See Judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal dated October 22, 2020, docket number K 1/20, Journal of Laws 2021 item 175.
51 See Open letter of doctors to the judges of the Constitutional Tribunal. Available at https://www.ofeminin.pl/swiat-kobiet/to-dla-nas-wazne/lekarze-protestuja-przeciwko-zmianom-w-prawie-aborcyjnym-list/1cwkq35

52 According to the current text of the 1993 Act, legal abortion in Poland is possible only when the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life or health (the so-called therapeutic premise) and when it arose as a result of a prohibited act, for example rape or incest (the so-called legal premise).

53 These laws are: Health and Disability Commissioner Act 1994 and the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights; Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003; Medicines Act 1981; Health and Disability Services (Safety) Act 2001 and Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. See Abortion Law, New Zealand Family Planning. Available at https://www.familyplanning.org.nz/advice/abortion/abortion-law

54 That period is known as the time of the abortion wars. See A. McCulloch & A. Weatherall (2017), “The fragility of de facto abortion on demand in New Zealand Aotearoa”, Feminism & Psychology, 27:1 (2017), p. 95., DOI: 10.1177/0959353516679432.

55 Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977, 1977 No. 112.

56 In 2008 as much as 99% of abortions requested were said to be authorised. See A. McCulloch & A. Weatherall, pp. 93 – 94.

57 Crimes Act 1961, 1961 No. 43.

58 A. McCulloch & A. Weatherall, p. 93.

59 Alison McCulloch, Fighting to Choose: The Abortion Rights Struggle in New Zealand, (Wellington, Victoria University Press, 2013), p. 262.

60 Care of Child Act 2004, 2004 No. 90.

61 “Abortion poll backs rights of parents,” 28 September 2004. Available at https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/abortion-poll-backs-rights-of-parents/GILYI4EM73UEC4242NAJFY37OM/

62 It is noteworthy that amongst these jurisdictions that have abortion legislation, the Australian state of Victoria has currently the most extreme law. In practice, it allows for abortion on demand, for any reason throughout the pregnancy. See “NZ PM rushes world’s most extreme abortion legislation into law while country distracted with pandemic,” 18 March 2020, Available at https://righttolife.org.uk/news/nz-pmrushes-worlds-most-extreme-abortion-law-into-law-while-country-distracted-with-pandemic