Today I’m going to a protest here in Warsaw. We are going to protest a recent government proposal, influenced by Catholic bishops, to further restrict the already incredibly strict abortions laws in Poland. Currently the law allows abortion only in the case of rape, mortal danger to the mother’s health or in the event the fetus has a lethal or very serious congenital condition. The new law proposes to get rid of the last condition and require that a women who is pregnant with a fetus with serious defects or illness carry to term.
This is unfathomable to me. I cannot imagine what it would be like to know that my child has no brain or a condition that would mean they will suffer after birth and die because their condition is not compatible with life - and be FORCED to carry that child to term, to endure childbirth and then have to watch that child die or linger in pain and suffering for an indefinite period of time. I cannot imagine being FORCED to give birth to a child that will be so sick or disabled that my life would be forced to revolve around their care. Because let’s be real - this responsibly falls to the woman, the mother, in the vast majority of cases.
I cannot support this. I cannot stay home and quietly rage about it either. I’m not going to get into a discussion on abortion in general. I’m 100% pro-choice, however it’s a choice that I wouldn’t be able to make lightly. I don’t know what I’d do if I discovered I was pregnant with a horrifically sick child. I don’t know because I haven’t been in that position. Not only that, I come from a position of incredible privilege. I’m in a loving, stable relationship. I have a ton of resources - physical and financial - available to me, to support me, to help me. I’d be able to afford the best medical treatment and additional help. I have a family and friends who would be there for me. I have a husband who would be able to support our family on his own without me working. And yet. I still don’t know what I’d do if I were faced with it in reality and not in a hypothetical situation. But I know one thing for sure. I’d want the choice to be MINE. Because the consequences would be MINE.
I value life. Don’t get me wrong. I know that abortion is ending a life. I’m not going to give the argument that a fetus isn’t a person, or that it’s just a bunch of cells or anything like that. To me, it’s a life. But the mother’s life is ALSO a life. It is the mother alone that faces the risk of death (childbirth is still a leading cause of women’s death all over the world), it’s the mother alone whose body is changed, often damaged, who will lose opportunities, will lose wages, lose time with family and friends and who will ultimately be left with the care of the baby afterwards. How is that caring about and valuing life? Life is more than the physical act of being alive, breathing and blood circulating the body. At least, to me.
I also respect the Catholic Church’s position. They can have the position of no abortion in any case. That’s fine. But what they shouldn’t do is force this on anyone. If someone is Catholic and chooses to submit to the church’s position, that should be their choice. The church has its platform, it has many ways to try and persuade its followers and others to adopt this position too. They can appeal to people’s consciences, their morality, their faith. But NOT to the legal system. In my opinion, if the church, with its incredibly strong reach and influence here in Poland, cannot convince people without forcing their beliefs into law, then that is their failure.
Similarly with the government. If they want to persuade women to not have abortions, they should do much, much more to help those women during their pregnancies and after birth. Not redirect EU funds for aiding families with children with disabilities to antiabortion campaigns. Not banning children with disabilities from public schools because of the “cost” accommodate those children. Not allowing pharmacies to not fulfill birth control prescriptions because the pharmacist’s “conscience” is against birth control.
So today I’ll be joining thousands of women in Warsaw and around Poland and demand that this law is not enacted.
I’m AGAINST further restrictions on abortion in Poland. I stand with Polish women.