The United Nations criticized Poland's abortion laws in a recent report, stating that they are too strict and that they may lead women to risk their lives as they seek illegal and unsafe abortions.
Poland's current leftist pro-abortion government expects the UN report to reopen a public debate on abortion.
Under Poland’s 1993 legislation, abortion is only allowed if a woman was raped, the pregnancy threatens her life or if the fetus is damaged. It replaced decades of free access to abortion under communism. Doctors who perform illegal abortions now face up to three years in jail.
The current government hopes to change that. A bill that would allow women access to abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy is due for a first reading in parliament but no date has yet been set.
But Catholic and other pro-life groups are outraged by the UN report and attempts in parliament to increase access to abortion. Anna Sobecka, a parliamentarian from the Polish League of Families, a Catholic opposition party told Reuters that abortion should be completely outlawed. “Abortion is manslaughter; it's murder," she said.
Polish media have often reported on a huge and growing underground abortion industry. Some pro-abortion groups estimate that there are up to 200,000 illegal abortions performed in Poland each year.