September 28 is a globally recognized day that frames campaign activities undertaken by advocates around the world to strengthen an international movement for legal and safe abortion. This year, WGNRR, the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, Ipas Alliance, Campaña 28 de Septiembre LAC and many more partners and allies are joining efforts and launching a united theme “Normalizing abortion: It’s part of our lives”. The Federation for Women and Family Planning always participates in this annual campaign. This year we focused on the following activities relating to the main theme:
- Launching a manual “How to write/talk about abortion?“ and a collection of real abortion stories “#Womens’Stories“ to counter abortion stigma and myths. Not only does the manual discuss neologisms and linguistic manipulations of the anti-choice lobby, but it also suggests a proper, neutral language and provides many useful facts and statistical data about abortion.
- Commissioning opinion poll, which showed an unprecedented support for the right to terminate pregnancy up to 12 weeks – 69%. The highest support was noted among people with income up to 2000 PLN and 4000-5000PLN as well as among people aged 40-60. There was no meaningful difference between men and women (respectively 71% and 66%). Moreover, 92% were strongly opposed to state’s interference in reproductive choices. The Federation also asked about peoples’ stance on drastic, anti-abortion banners in the public sphere, especially near schools and hospitals. 83% of Poles have a negative opinion about such posters & 70% would ban them.
- Conference “Abortion is part of our lives” was meant to celebrate worldwide successes of the pro-choice community. Krystyna Kacpura, director of the Federation, presented the most crucial developments from Chile to Ireland to South Korea.The leader of the Polish Women’s Strike Marta Lempart told about the cooperation between activists from Poland, Ireland and Argentina. She also announced a new campaign “Legal abortion now!”, which is supposed to check politicians’ views on legal abortion and publicize which MPs, senators and candidates are pro-choice. Natasza Blek from initiative “Doctors for Women” presented data illustrating doctors’ stance on the current anti-abortion law (25% for liberalization, 8% for abortion on demand). In her opinion, a positive development could be triggered by such means as consolidating the medical community, more funding for healthcare, educational activities for and by doctors, international consultations. Lawyer Kamila Ferenc enumerated barriers in accessing legal abortion in the three cases: fundamentalism, religion, conscientious objection, penalization of abortion together with “freezing effect”, paternalism of doctors and the presence of drastic anti-abortion banners in the public sphere. As little as 10% of the Polish hospitals perform legal abortions. Activist Aleksandra Knapik provided examples of how effective storytelling and cooperation on the European level are in the work of grassroots movement. The crowning moment of the event was signing the pro-choice, international document called The Brussels Declaration.
The Federation invited politicians from left to right to check who supports progressive values, evidence-based sexuality educations, decriminalization of abortion. Some parties signed it as a whole. These include the Greens, The United Left Alliance, The Feminist Initiative, Together Party and the local committee “Warsaw Will Win”. Other signatories involved NGOs (The Women’s Congress, Love Does Not Exclude Association, Trans-Fuzja Foundation), informal groups (the Warsaw Women’s Strike), politicians (Barbara Nowacka, Paulina Piechna-Więckiewicz, Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus, Joanna Schmidt, Monika Rosa, Ewa Lieder) and researchers (Elżbieta Korolczuk, Agnieszka Graff, Klementyna Suchanow).
Moreover, there were several events organised by an informal group Abortion Dream Team – lecture on medical abortion, debate about perception of abortion in the mainstream media, pro-choice march gathering 2-3 thousand people. More details
Among many important actions worldwide it is necessary to mention the following examples:
- 28 stories of success and progress for abortion rights in 2018
- Let’s talk abortion: personal experiences
- Centre for Reproductive Rights launches an online course for SRHR advocates
- More than 200 civil society organizations from around the world signed a statement which was delivered at the Human Rights Council #HRC39
- Statement by the ASTRA Network