Women Deliver’s 4th Global Conference will be taking place on 16-19 May 2016 in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is going to be the largest gathering on girls’ and women’s health and rights in the last decade and one of the first major global conferences following the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The focus of the conference will be on how to implement the SDGs so they matter most for girls and women, with a specific focus on health – in particular maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights – and on gender equality, education, environment, and economic empowerment. The conference will bring together world leaders, advocates, policymakers, journalists, young people, researchers, and leaders of corporate companies and civil society to showcase what it means and how it works when girls and women become the focus of development efforts.
To learn more about the Women Deliver 2016 conference download the conference 2-pager here.
ASTRA Network invites to a panel discussion „Threats to Reproductive Health and Rights in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia” with speakers from Poland, Romania, Macedonia and Armenia.
Krystyna Kacpura, Federation for Women and Family Planning, Poland
Daniela Draghici, Society for Feminist Analyses AnA, Romania
Bojan Jovanovski, H.E.R.A., Macedonia
Lida Minasyan, Society Without Violence, Armenia
Marta Szostak, ASTRA Network Coordinator
The panel will be held on Monday, May 16th from 12 to 13.30 hrs at Bella Center, room 66/67J.
Members of the Austrian Parliament, German Parliament and UK All -Party Parliamentary Group on Population Development and Reproductive Health sent letters to Marek Kuchciński Marshal of the Polish Sejm regarding initiative for a draft law introducing a complete ban on abortion.
"As many as 9,000 people attended the latest Warsaw pro-choice demonstration on April 9 — with many others at rallies in other cities around Poland.
The numbers show that "not only women but the society as a whole has had enough," said Krystyna Kacpura, executive director of the Federation for Women and Family Planning."
Click down to read the whole article
English translation of the Federation's annual report for 2015 is available online here:
The currently ruling conservative party, Law and Justice, aims to redesign Polish democracy and to reestablish the “traditional” and “Catholic” values and also gain more independence from the European Union. The Catholic Church in Poland is very powerful and has many supporters within today’s Government. It does also of course oppose IVF, emergency contraception, sexuality education, abortion and sees its main enemy in the word “gender”. The anti-choice community, with great support from the Catholic and conservative groups, is currently very strong as the current government consists mainly of politicians with conservative attitudes.
The “Stop Abortion” civic committee has almost succeeded in submitting a draft law introducing a complete ban on abortion and a new category into the criminal code – “prenatal murder”, which will introduce penalty of 3 to 5 years in prison for women, doctors and anyone helping a woman to perform an abortion. If abortion is unintentional the penalty will be up to 3 years. The Court will have the possibility to drop charges. In the rationale, the authors of the draft law quote the teachings of Polish Pope, John Paul II, refer to the Polish constitution which grants legal protection to all human beings (it doesn’t however clarify when human life begins) and also selectively quote the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Additionally they also propose to replace the term “human fetus” with “conceived child” where possible. The draft law doesn’t at all refer to the protection of woman’s life, health and wellbeing.
This anti-choice initiative is currently waiting for the decision of the Marshall of the Sejm on whether it will be registered. If successful, the “Stop Abortion” committee will then have 3 months to collect 100 000 signatures to ensure that the law will be debated in the Polish Sejm.
Only recently Polish Prime Minister, Beata Szydło, said that she supports this initiative and “hopes for a reasonable voice on behalf of the episcopate to ensure a substantive discussion”. This coming Sunday, April 3rd, the statement of the Polish episcopate will be read aloud in all churches in Poland. The signatories of this document state that life begins from the moment of conception and ends with natural death. They will call upon all people, Parliamentarians and policy makers to ensure legal protection of unborn children.
Only recently we have faced the first step towards limiting women’s reproductive rights as the Polish Ministry of Health will reinstate the prescription requirement for emergency contraception (ellaOne) in about three months. “Concern for women's well-being, especially that of the youngest women” is the rationale for this move. In 2015, thanks to the European Commission ruling, this emergency contraception pill became available over the counter for all women above 15 years of age.
All these steps are not only a sign of a backlash on women’s reproductive rights but also a very worrying trend of conservative turn of the Polish Government and huge power held by the Catholic Church in Poland. As consequence of such a law not only the human rights of women and girls will be violated, but also their life and health will be endangered. The practical consequences will be vast as the total ban on abortion will not eliminate cases of abortion at all. It will only make them even more unsafe, surrounded by trauma, possible penalties and accessible to those who have enough money and support to perform an abortion abroad or turn to the abortion underground in Poland.
The case of an NGO such as the Federation for Women and Family Planning is even more difficult as currently advocacy for women’s reproductive rights and supporting women in accessing a legal abortion is ongoing within the boundaries set by the Polish law (which allows a legal abortion in three cases only). In case of a total ban of abortion the existence of the Federation will be questionable.