In the Religious Studies GCSE students are able to study whether having an abortion should be a choice open to all women who have an unwanted pregnancy; only available to those whose lives would be at risk if the pregnancy continued; or not available to anyone as abortion is equated to killing a human life. This is a bit simplistic, there are plenty more variations on this theme, but it generally is an argument of allowing a lot of freedom, allowing abortion under very restricted circumstances and not allowing it at all.
In Poland abortion laws were already stricter than in Britain. In Poland abortions are only legally permitted when the life of the foetus is under threat, when there is a grave threat to the health of the mother (the Double Effect), and in the instance that the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. These reasons mostly tie in with Catholic opinions on abortion, though some Catholics say that all abortion is equivalent to murder and is against the Decalogue (10 Commandments).
Well now the law on abortion is about to get even stricter in Poland and some women are so annoyed about the loss of choice that they are saying they’ll go on strike to show their disagreement. Abortion is basically going to be completed banned with all terminations becoming a criminal act, with women punishable with up to five years in prison. Doctors found to have assisted with a termination would also be liable for prosecution and a prison term. There has obviously been some support for this in Poland too, parts of the Catholic church, a left wing political party and an organisation keen to stop all abortions.
According to a poll for Newsweek Polska, 74% of Poles support the retention of the existing legislation, while research by polling company Ipsos indicates 50% of Poles support the strike, with 15% saying they would like to take part. A further 15% expressed opposition.
“My mother is very Catholic, goes to church every Sunday, and is against abortion just because you might not want the child,” says Małgorzata Łodyga, a junior doctor who supports the strike. “But she is against this law, because if a woman is raped, she will be treated worse than the man who raped her.”
In England abortion is legal up to 24 weeks under the Abortion Act 1967. However, if there is a substantial risk to the woman’s life or foetal abnormalities, there is no time limit. There is also no age limit for treatment but it strongly advise that under 16s have counselling before they make any decision to go ahead with treatment. It is required under law that when someone requests an abortion you will be asked for your reasons. This is because before an abortion can proceed, two doctors must ensure that the requirements of the Abortion Act are fulfilled, and they must both sign the relevant certificate.