Polish Parliament Hearing Held Regarding Women Traveling for Abortions
Leading Polish activists held a civil hearing at the Polish parliament yesterday on the rising number of Polish women who are traveling abroad to obtain access to abortion. Doctors from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and Britain who regularly treat Polish women also attended the meeting. A doctor's written notice authorizing an abortion procedure is required to obtain an abortion in Poland, where strict abortion laws only allow abortion in cases of a threat to a woman's life or health, severe and permanent handicaps of the fetus, and rape or incest. The Catholic Church was influential in a 1993 compromise that led to Poland's current abortion laws.
Wanda Nowicka, Director of Poland's Federation for Women and Family Planning, told lawmakers that despite official records indicating only several hundred abortions are procured in Poland each year "that on average 150,000 abortions are performed per year...Of this number, some 10-15 percent of abortions are performed abroad and this number is definitely growing," according to Reuters. More Polish women are resorting to so-called "abortion tourism" because underground abortions in Poland are unsafe and the social stigma associated with having an abortion is large in Poland.
According to a 2005 poll on European values, Poland was the only country of the ten polled where the majority of respondents oppose abortion, reported the Warsaw Business Journal.
In 2007, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of a Polish woman who was denied an abortion, even though her health was jeopardized by the pregnancy. The court ruling had no effect on Poland's strict abortion laws, but the country was ordered to pay the woman, Alicia Tysiac, $52,000 in damages.
Media Resources: Reuters 8/26/10; Warsaw Business Journal 8/27/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 3/21/07
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .