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Polish women increasingly head abroad for abortions

27th August 2010
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In order to circumvent anti-abortion laws in their home country, increasing numbers of Polish women are going abroad to have an abortion, according to a pro-choice group.

Abortions are only permitted in Poland when the mother's health is endangered, when the fetus is seriously malformed or when the pregnancy was caused by a crime, such as rape. By European standards, Polish abortion law is extremely prohibitive, even though it represents a compromise reached in 1993 between a group compromising the Catholic Church and right-wing politicians, and a group of left-wingers and liberals.

The restrictive laws have driven Polish women hoping for – or pressured into – an abortion underground or abroad.

“We estimate ... that on average 150,000 abortions are performed per year,” Reuters quotes Wanda Nowicka, head of the Federation for Women and Family Planning, as saying at a meeting of the Polish parliament on Thursday.

“Of this number, some 10-15 percent of abortions are performed abroad and this number is definitely growing.”

Many women feel they need to go abroad because abortion conditions can be dangerous in Poland, because they fear breaking the law and because they fear becoming social outcasts, particularly in rural, largely Catholic areas.

Health professionals from some of the countries to which Polish women go in order to have abortions were also present at the meeting.

“Several thousand Polish women terminate pregnancies in Germany every year,” Reuters reports Janusz Rudzinski, from a clinic in Prenzlau, Germany, as saying.

Polish society is the most pro-life in Europe, according to the poll European values in May 2005.  Of the 10 countries polled, Poland was the only country were the majority of people opposed abortion.

From Warsaw Business Journal by Gareth Price

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