Abortion has been effectively banned in Poland

In over 20 years working for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), I have never heard of a woman say she wanted an abortion because she felt people with chromosomal abnormalities shouldn’t exist, or because they were people dislikes with disabilities. I have never heard a woman say that by having an abortion she is setting an example for others.

In short: the decision is personal, not political. Abortion is an individual solution to an individual problem and should be available, a moral choice to be made by the pregnant person.

On the occasions that I have visited Poland to meet with activists, I have been struck by their clear determination that we should make choices about our bodies and our private lives. People in former Eastern bloc countries who remember state repression in recent times view state interference in private affairs in a strongly negative way.

In the UK, government has a softer, more consensual touch. But events in Poland should make us think about our own abortion legislation – and that although the Abortion Act provides for exceptions to prosecution, abortion remains a criminal offence.

In order for women to really be able to decide if, when and with whom they want to have children, we must abolish the laws that criminalize voluntary abortion. We have to trust the pregnant woman to make a decision; not accountable to anyone except those they wished to involve.

Respect for women’s reproductive capacity is a sign of a government’s trust in its female population. Whether we’re in Poland or the UK, we need to make sure our politicians understand this.

Ann Furedi is the author of The Moral Case for Abortion. Abortion has been effectively banned in Poland

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