Brussels, Belgium – Preventing for justice and girls’s rights in Poland has turn into an integral a part of Barbara Skrobol’s life since September 22, 2021.
This was the day her sister-in-law, Izabela Sajbor, died of sepsis at a hospital in southern Poland after docs refused to terminate her being pregnant after discovering foetal defects, because of Poland’s stringent abortion guidelines.
“Iza was like a sister to me. She was all the time lively and was additionally a task mannequin to her nine-year-old daughter Maja. Her dying shook our household,” Skrobol informed Al Jazeera.
“When she obtained pregnant once more, the information made all of us very blissful. However 22 weeks into her being pregnant, Poland’s new abortion legislation dictated the course of her life,” she added.
Poland has among the strictest abortion legal guidelines in Europe. In October 2020, the nation’s Constitutional Tribunal dominated that abortion because of foetal defects was unconstitutional.
The court docket added that pregnancies might be terminated solely in instances of rape, incest or if the mom’s life is at risk. This laws was ratified by the Polish authorities in January 2021.
Izabela Sajbor grew to become one of many first recognized victims of this de facto abortion ban and Skrobol has been lobbying laborious for justice. She can also be eager to make sure that no different lady endures an analogous expertise as her sister-in-law.
Talking at a public listening to on Poland’s abortion legislation on the European Parliament in Brussels on November 17, Skrobol described Izabela’s final moments on the hospital in Pszczyna.
“We weren’t let to go to her however acquired textual content messages from her saying the docs have been ready for her fetus’s heartbeat to cease,” Skrobol stated, including that the docs have been following Poland’s abortion legislation of not terminating a being pregnant because of foetal points.
“Iza knew her life was at risk however was eager to dwell for her household. Simply hours earlier than she died, her final textual content message stated: ‘Girls are being handled as incubators’,” Skrobol stated.
She summoned the European Union to take a harder stance on the matter in order that stringent legal guidelines don’t proceed shaping ladies’s lives in Poland.
Izabela’s dying sparked widespread protests in Poland with ladies condemning the abortion legislation. Since her dying, many have additionally turn into apprehensive about turning into pregnant.
In keeping with an October 2022 report by the Polish newspaper Dziennik Gazeta, 52 % of Poles consider the brand new abortion guidelines have made them much less eager to have youngsters. It is a 45 % rise from final 12 months.
Kamila Ferenc, lawyer on the Warsaw-based Basis for Girls and Household Planning (FEDERA), informed Al Jazeera that since Poland’s restrictive household planning act was launched in 1993, ladies haven’t been assured their reproductive rights.
“The sturdy place of the Catholic Church has stigmatised abortion and our conservative authorities ratifying the October 2020 abortion laws has made it very laborious for a lot of ladies. Even accessing contraceptives is difficult,” Ferenc informed Al Jazeera.
She highlighted that for the reason that October 2020 laws got here into pressure, greater than 70,000 Polish ladies have been affected and 6 ladies have died the identical means as Izabela, as docs refused to terminate their pregnancies.
“The case is in opposition to the docs as effectively, as a result of by not offering medical providers when wanted, they’re neglecting the affected person’s life,” Ferenc stated.
Whereas she is conscious that some docs should not finishing up abortions when wanted because of worry of getting caught by authorities authorities, her organisation is attempting to cooperate with them and assist them.
“We organise workshops for them and attempt to change their perspective by making them conscious of how brutal the federal government’s guidelines are, and the way they as docs ought to prioritise saving an individual’s life over following a discriminatory legislation out of worry,” Ferenc stated.
The European Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, has criticised the Polish abortion legislation.
The European Parliament adopted a decision in November 2021, calling on Warsaw to raise the de facto ban that threatens ladies’s lives.
At a listening to within the European Parliament in Brussels this week, Polish politician Robert Biedron, who can also be the chair of the European Parliament’s Girls’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, reported on a current go to to Poland.
“We met many ladies, NGOs supporting pregnant ladies in want, authorities leaders and opposition celebration members. Beneath the present scenario, entry to authorized abortion continues to be very restricted,” he informed reporters at a information convention on the European Parliament in Brussels.
“It’s important for the EU to name on Poland to raise this ban and likewise make sure that each EU nation offers ladies the proper to endure abortions. This must be part of the bloc’s technique on well being and reproductive rights,” Biedron added.
Biedron additionally identified that the European Parliament’s delegation met a number of Ukrainian refugee ladies in Poland, who’re additionally topic to the abortion ban.
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, thousands and thousands of Ukrainians have fled to neighbouring Poland and different EU nations.
Poland’s strict abortion guidelines have come as a brutal shock to Ukrainian ladies, in response to Ferenc.
“These ladies have been used to a extra liberal abortion laws in Ukraine, and now, they’re stunned that in Poland, which on one hand is giving them shelter, isn’t letting them train their elementary reproductive rights however,” Ferenc informed Al Jazeera, including that they haven’t protested in opposition to the legislation however are as a substitute “struggling in silence”.
One other problem for Ukrainian ladies is how Polish legislation offers with abortion after rape. Whereas abortion is allowed, ladies have to have the ability to show they’ve been raped.
“That is already troublesome for Polish ladies and can be even more durable for Ukrainian ladies. However we at FEDERA assist them get a certificates from a prosecutor,” Urszula Grycuk, the organisation’s coordinator for worldwide advocacy, informed Al Jazeera.
To help Ukrainian ladies additional, Biedron informed Al Jazeera that the EU ought to think about together with a clause to allow them to search abortion providers freely in each EU nation as part of the bloc’s non permanent safety directive, which provides Ukrainians the proper to dwell and avail medical care, work alternatives and schooling until 2024 within the EU.
‘Let ladies protest’
Caroline Hickson, regional director of the Worldwide Deliberate Parenthood Federation European Community, highlighted the significance of defending ladies’s rights to protest as the worldwide battle to have abortion bans lifted magnifies with ladies protesting not solely Poland’s legal guidelines but additionally extra lately, the US’s abortion legal guidelines.
“Many ladies like Marta Lempart, who’re main the Polish ladies’s strike, have been slapped with costs for protesting the federal government’s legal guidelines. The proper to peacefully protest must be protected within the EU as a result of it could actually make a distinction because it has in international locations like Eire,” she stated on the European Parliament listening to.
“If it’s not protected, extra ladies will die and we can be right here at a listening to once more in 10 years,” she added.
Skrobol shared an analogous view.
“Izabela’s daughter Maja takes her faculty paintings and a teddy bear and goes to go to her mom’s grave each single day,” she stated.
“Allow us to not take away wives from their husbands and moms from their youngsters and proceed preventing for our rights,” Skrobol added.