PES condemns barbaric attack on women’s rights in Poland

16/04/2020 - In the 21st century Poland’s ruling party pushes for total abortion ban and criminalisation of contraceptives and sexual education

Protester in Gdansk, Poland.

Gdansk, Poland. A protester observing social distance rules holds a banner reading 'we don't fold umbrellas - Polish hell’. Women in the city also drove cars to a PiS office, honking their horns in protest. Photo: Vadim Pacajev / Sipa

The PES condemns yet another attempt by the Law and Justice Party (PiS) to roll back women’s rights in Poland. We strongly oppose the way PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński is using the emergency situation to impose these measures.

In the shadow of the virus crisis the Polish parliament voted today to send legislation to restrict abortion and sexual education to the next stage - further consideration by a parliamentary committee. The parliamentary group of the Left was leading the fight for the legislation to be rejected, but was outnumbered.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“These barbaric bills must be stopped. Stripping away women’s rights should not be up for debate in 2020. Yet PiS is trying to push forward legislation that will take the country back in time, so women have even less power to decide about their own bodies.

“We strongly oppose the attempt by PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński to use the emergency situation to impose these measures. This is yet another example of ultra-conservatives using the coronavirus crisis to try and introduce hardline policies while domestic opponents are in lockdown and the attention of the EU, NGOs and others is focused elsewhere.

“PiS is fixated on achieving a total ban on abortions, irrespective of what doctors or women’s rights organisations say. Now they are pushing forward with a clamp down on abortions even in cases of severe and irreversible foetal defects. In another absurd and dangerous move, PiS also want to criminalise sexual education and contraception for young people. These measures are a flagrant attempt to crush women’s rights in Poland. We call on all progressives, democrats and feminists across Europe to stand up to this attack.”

The PES and its women’s organisation PES Women fight to defend women’s rights from attacks by the far-right, in Poland, Hungary and everywhere else where they are under threat.

Earlier this week the PES and PES Women joined the S&D in writing to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to call for more action to support women, who are currently facing increased risk because of the coronavirus outbreak.

European progressives are united in pushing back against the attack on women’s rights in Poland. Robert Biedroń, MEP and progressive candidate for Polish President, and S&D Group President Iratxe García Pérez have condemned the efforts of PiS. And a cross-party group of 30 MEPs, including S&D representatives, wrote this week to Elżbieta Witek, Marshall of the Sejm, to raise concerns that the bills will roll back protections for women’s human rights and self-determination.

Earlier this month the PES objected to another underhand decision by PiS to retain the May presidential election, despite the health risks and the clear implication of the lockdown on the functioning of democracy. The PES believes the election should be postponed.