European Women's Lobby letter to Prime Minister Tusk
Brusselss, July 29. EWL sent a letter today to Donald Tusk regarding the Law on Family Planning, Protection of the Human Foetus and Conditions for Legal Abortion, and the implementation of Poland’s EU and international commitments regarding women’s rights and gender equality.
Mr. Donald Tusk
RE: Changing the Law on Family Planning, Protection of the Human Foetus and Conditions for Legal Abortion, and implementation of Poland’s EU and international commitments regarding women’s rights and gender equality
Brussels, 29 July 2011
The European Women’s Lobby wishes to express its deep concern regarding the current discussions taking place in the framework of the process leading to the adoption of a new law changing the Law on Family Planning, Protection of the Human Foetus and Conditions for Legal Abortion, which might lead to Poland’s violation of women’s human rights and its failure to fulfil its fundamental role to promote gender equality and human rights.
The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU), working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 27 EU Member States and three of the candidate countries, as well as to 21 European-wide bodies, representing a total of more than 2500 organisations. Working with its members at national and European level, the EWL’s objectives are to lobby for the realisation of gender equality and to monitor all European policies, in order to ensure the integration of a gender perspective in all areas and to ensure the respect for gender equality and women’s human rights.
Our Polish member organisation has brought to our attention the current discussion on the issue of women’s sexual and reproductive rights and health in the framework of the discussion around the new law, to be discussed by the Parliament's Committee by 1 September 2011. Please let us remind you of the many international human rights agreements which call for gender equality and the full respect of each individual’s sexual and reproductive rights, including the Beijing Platform for Action and the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified by the Polish Government.
The European Union and its Member States have committed to the realisation of gender equality and the promotion of women’s rights, as a fundamental and founding value and objective of the EU, as stated in Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty on European Union and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. The Cairo Programme of Action, adopted by 180 nations at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, states that reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children, and to have the information and means to do so, including access to health care, legal and safe abortion, and reliable, safe and affordable contraception.
We believe it to be essential that the Polish legislation takes stock of these international commitments and values and ensures women’s full enjoyment of their human rights, including their sexual and reproductive rights. The international human rights standard is to liberalise abortion laws to make the interruption of unwanted pregnancies safe and accessible to women and thereby lessen maternal mortality related to unsafe abortion. The language used in the draft of the new bill regarding the right to life does not correspond to that used in international and European human rights instruments – to which Poland is also party – as it unconditionally prohibits abortion, thereby leading not to the lessening of the number of women inducing abortion but only making it dangerous for women who will undergo clandestine and unsafe abortion. Passing the bill will increase maternal mortality and abortion-related injuries and deaths are likely to be especially high among poor women. Many of them might try self-induced abortions. It is unacceptable that in the 21st Century, a European country includes in its legislation a provision which directly endangers women's lives.
While Poland is holding the EU Presidency, it is crucial that your country shows its commitment to promote gender equality and human rights, both through its own legislation and its work at EU level. In this perspective, you will find enclosed with this letter the EWL’s priorities for the Polish Presidency of the EU which highlight our principal current concerns in terms of women’s rights and gender equality at EU level.
We trust that you will do your utmost to ensure that Poland considers reviewing its legislation regarding abortion in a forward-looking light, taking the lead in promoting women's sexual and reproductive rights. We remain at your disposal for any support we can provide you with in this very important task.
Brigitte Triems Cécile Gréboval
EWL President EWL Secretary General
For more information, interviews, background or visual materials, please contact Leanda Barrington-Leach, EWL Communications and Media Officer, T: (+32) 2 210 04 27, firstname.lastname@example.org, and see www.womenlobby.org.