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.