We, the members of the International Humanist & Ethical Union, gathered in Congress on the occasion of our fortieth anniversary, express deep concern at the progressive violation of human rights by the government of the republic of Poland. The latest drastic example of this process is the prospect of the adoption in Poland of the most restrictive anti-abortion law in Europe. Poland’s Parliament, pressed by the Catholic Church, rejected both a more liberal version of the law and a call for a national referendum on the issue of abortion. According to the only version of the law now under discussion, a woman will be allowed to demand and obtain an abortion only if her pregnancy would lead her to death.
Not only are the rights of women to decide on private matters violated, but in addition women and their families are sentenced to endure the further deterioration of their economic outlook and housing situation, both of which were already unacceptable. Moreover, the new anti-abortion law is certain to increase the number of illegal abortions, performed by non-professionals in often unhygienic settings, leading to health complications and often to the death of women. The outcome was the same during the Stalin era in Poland when a similar abortion law was imposed.
The growing role of the Catholic Church in Poland, and the adoption of laws which violate human rights and contradict the basic values of modern liberal society can prevent Poland from taking its rightful place among the community of modern European countries.
IHEU congress 1992
'The rights of women in Poland', Humanists International, World Humanist Congress, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1992