EU Accession Treaty: Catholics Call for Protection of Poland’s Abortion Policies
The Roman Catholic Church in Poland is demanding that the treaty allowing its accession to the European Union (EU) contain language stipulating Poland’s freedom to set its own abortion policy. According to The Associated Press, Poland sent a declaration to Brussels saying that, “no EU treaties or annexes to those treaties would hamper the Polish government in regulating moral issues or those concerning the protection of human life.” Conservative Poles are taking precautions, in light of an EU resolution calling all new member states and east European states to legalize abortion. Conservatives have also expressed outrage at EU proposals seeking to provide abortion services in developing countries through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Along with Ireland, Poland has one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe, according to Agence France Presse. Current legislation permits abortion only when the woman’s health or life is in danger, the fetus deformed, or if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka, the Polish minister dealing with gender equality, stated at a conference that “the shameful law has only negative consequences,” according to AFP. Approximately 80,000-200,000 illegal abortions—many performed under dangerous conditions—occur every year in Poland. People who perform these back-alley abortions are sentenced to two to three years in prison if convicted, reported AFP.
Last month, Polish women’s groups demanded a loosening of the country’s 1993 anti-abortion law, marking the 10th anniversary of the legislation. Ninety percent of Poles describe themselves as Roman Catholics. The Associated Press reports that recent surveys suggest the majority of Poles favor relaxing and liberalizing the law.
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. . . .