Polish Parliament liberalizes access to the morning-after pill

The lower house of the Polish Parliament adopted a law on Thursday February 22 liberalizing access to the morning-after pill, the use of which had been limited by the previous conservative populist government

Polish Parliament liberalizes access to the morning-after pill

The lower house of the Polish Parliament adopted a law on Thursday February 22 liberalizing access to the morning-after pill, the use of which had been limited by the previous conservative populist government. It was only available by prescription. The law, which must still pass the Senate and be signed by President Andrzej Duda, was approved by 224 deputies (against 196) and authorizes the pill from the age of 15 without a prescription.

The liberalization of access to this pill was one of the elements of the program of the pro-European coalition which formed its government on December 13. The position of President Duda, an ally of the conservative populist opposition, remains uncertain in the face of the new law, with his advisers citing his reservations about the age of access to the morning-after pill, considered too low.

Furthermore, Poland, a country with a strong Catholic tradition, still has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, with abortion only being authorized in cases of rape or incest, or when the mother's life is in danger. In 2020, the Constitutional Court sided with the previous government in declaring terminations of pregnancies for fetal malformation “unconstitutional.”

The Civic Platform, a member of the current pro-European majority, recently tabled a bill liberalizing abortion up to twelve weeks, but its adoption remains uncertain, given the reservations of other coalition parties. . In 2022, only 161 legal abortions were carried out, compared to around 2,000 before the law was tightened in 2020. According to feminist organizations, 100,000 women terminate their pregnancies each year using abortion pills, banned in Poland, or in going abroad.