IPPF EN Condemns Polish Move to Restrict Women's Access to Contraception

26th June 2017
Czarny protest emergency contraception

IPPF EN is outraged by the Polish authorities’ latest move to limit access to emergency contraception. Last Friday 23rd June, Poland's President Andrzej Duda approved a new law limiting access to the only available emergency contraceptive pill. The law will come into effect next month and will end prescription-free emergency contraception.

We condemn this outrageous violation of the private lives and intimacy of women and men. This not only tramples on women’s dignity and autonomy but it clearly aims to bully them into a pregnancy.

This is yet another example of reproductive coercion which will affect the lives of countless women and couples in Poland, particularly the youngest, poorest or most isolated. Government-mandated meddling with the reproductive lives of women, men and families is unacceptable.

These new restrictions were pushed through in May by Poland's ruling rightwing Law and Justice (PiS) party and adopted in the Polish parliament. Polish president, Andrzej Duda, gave his official consent to the law last Friday despite the opposition of women and human rights groups and opinion polls showing most Poles opposed it.

This latest move follows an attempt to impose a total ban on abortion and undermine access to assisted reproduction. With this decision, the government blatantly flouts the will of its own people after hundreds of thousands of protesters hit the streets over last year’s proposal in what became known as the ‘Czarny Protest’.

On women’s rights within the European Union, we are faced with a dichotomy where girls living in the right place can get free contraception, including over-the-counter emergency contraception, while others face an uphill struggle. In Poland, even a teenage rape victim has to fight to find a doctor who may – or may not - help her. The new Polish law passed by the country’s archaic authorities allows for the potential abuse of power by doctors who may feel that they have a right to judge the sexual lives of women based on their own moral convictions.

As Europeans we cannot stand still and watch.