Reaction to vote to establish the Polish Institute of Family and Demography
IPPF EN is appalled to learn that the lower chamber of the Polish parliament has today given the green light to establish the Polish Institute of Family and Demography. This seemingly innocuous initiative is anything but. It would allow for increased and unnecessary data processing on people’s reproductive health and expanded interference by the state in people’s family lives.
Prosecutorial powers would be granted to the Institute’s President, allowing them to interfere in or initiate court and administrative proceedings that fall under the scope of family or children’s rights, such as parental or adoption rights. Polish activists fear this could be used against LGBTQI families by allowing the President to apply for the removal of parental rights from LGBT parents, for example. One look at the track-record of the current presidential-hopeful indicates this fear may be founded: it is Bartłomiej Wróblewski, a PiS MP who submitted the motion to Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal that led to the virtual ban on abortion.
The Institute would also be invested with expanded data-processing powers. It would be allowed to “process any information, including personal data, necessary for the performance of its statutory tasks,” although particular attention would be paid to data on marriage and fertility. Again, activists fear that this is an attempt to introduce a system of surveillance on people’s private lives, particularly as it coincides with a recent initiative by the Health Ministry to establish a pregnancy registry, which expands data-gathering on pregnant people. If deemed ‘necessary’ by the Institute, it could process data on pregnancies, contraceptive access, emergency contraception and pregnancy loss. Activists point to how the latter has been used with devastating effect against women in countries with draconian abortion laws, where women who have suffered miscarriage are accused of accessing abortion, and prosecuted.
“This initiative is about the expansion of prosecutorial powers, the surveillance of families and the aggravation of a climate of fear for women, medical professionals and LGBQTI families."
"Women should not be afraid that their healthcare history will be tracked and used against them, families should not live in fear of being pulled apart because they don’t fit the mould promoted by Poland’s ultraconservative government or have dared to speak out against it. This bill must be seen for what it is and stopped.” continues Irene Donadio, of IPPF EN.
The bill is now under consideration in committee. Once approved it will be sent to the Senate, which can delay the creation of this Institute but cannot prevent it.
Reaction to the rejection of the “Stop Abortion” bill in Polish Parliament
The Polish ruling party, Law and Justice party (PiS), rejected a terrifying legislative proposal that would impose prison terms for women and anyone who helps them access abortion, including family members, friends and doctors.
Publicly PiS said that the anti-abortion bill was extreme and “unacceptable” and could lead to social unrest. In other words they admitted that the bill was based on extremist views that are not shared by society in Poland and that the women’s rights movement that organized the protests against the bill was right. This shows that large sectors of the PiS might not be aligned with hardliners in the leadership, as we also see in the chilling vote on the Institute for Family and Demography, which was passed by only one vote.
PiS leadership has long supported the views of the Pro-Right to Life Foundation - an anti-abortion group and the architects of the current virtual ban on abortion as well as this latest attack on abortion. PiS backed a similar bill in 2016 initiated by the same group, but withdrew support as the anti-rights proposal lacked support both from the public and Catholic bishops. Two years ago, the Pro-Right to Life Foundation also put forward a bill that would criminalize anyone who informs young people about sexuality and relationships.
“PiS is doing a balancing act, disassociating themselves from this new attack on women’s rights, but also keeping strong ties with anti-rights groups like the Pro-Right to Life Foundation. If they seriously oppose putting women's lives at risk, they should also oppose the current restrictions on abortion, which led to the death of at least two women. Anything else would be hypocrisy.” says Donadio ...
Under the current law abortions are now only allowed in the case of a crime, like rape or incest, of if the woman’s life or health is in danger.
Press Contact: International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network, in Brussels, Irene Donadio (English, Italian, French, Spanish): +32-491-071-93-90; or [email protected] Twitter: @ippfen
Notes to the editor:
- Results of voting on the Stop Abortion bill.
- Recently Poland’s health ministry has announced that the government may force all health care professionals to register every pregnancy.
- For more information on abortion care in Poland, see IPPF EN’s resources, including stories of women human rights defenders.