Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Nov 15, 2023 / 17:15 pm (CNA).
Polish lawmakers in the New Left political party introduced two bills that would liberalize the country’s abortion laws after the 2023 elections pushed the major right-wing party into the minority.
One bill would legalize elective abortions up to 12 weeks after pregnancy and the other would abolish laws that criminally punish people who assist in carrying out illegal abortions. It is unclear whether either of these bills will pass in the newly formed coalition government, which includes both left-wing and centrist parties.
Current laws prohibit all surgical and chemical abortions except when the life of the mother is at risk or the pregnancy has occurred as a result of illegal sexual activity, such as rape or incest. In Poland, women who receive abortions are not criminally punished, but anyone who assists a woman in carrying out an abortion could land up to three years in prison.
“Women’s rights are our priority,” the left-wing party stated in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “As the Left, we remain faithful to our ideals and demands with which we went to the elections on Oct. 15 — therefore, as promised, we are submitting bills liberalizing the abortion law.”
“The left has always fought, is fighting, and will fight for women’s rights, because there is no safe Poland without a safe Polish woman,” the post added.
Poland’s right-wing coalition led by the Law and Justice party lost 41 seats in the October elections, which brought the coalition’s 51% majority of seats down to a 42% plurality. Amid the nine-point swing, left-wing and centrist parties signed a pact to establish a coalition government opposing Law and Justice.
Even though members of the New Left are part of this coalition, it is not the most dominant force within it. The party, which holds 26 seats, also lost 23 seats in the October elections, which cut its representation nearly in half.
Rather, Poland’s centrist lawmakers, who are also part of the coalition, saw the most momentum in the elections: The centrist Civic Coalition picked up 23 seats and the center-right Third Way picked up 35 seats.
The Civic Coalition, which holds the most seats in the new coalition, is led by Donald Tusk, who last year signaled his support for legalizing abortion up to 12 weeks after pregnancy. He is the front-runner to be Poland’s next prime minister.
However, Third Way has not endorsed the plan to legalize abortion up to 12 weeks. Although its manifesto criticized the near-total ban on abortion, it suggests the issue should be decided via national referendum.
“This will be an important step towards strengthening the role of citizens in the law-making process,” the manifesto states. “We will conduct the referendum according to … clear rules, respecting the right to present different views.”
The three-prong coalition holds nearly 54% of the total seats in Parliament. The right-wing coalition led by Law and Justice holds about 42% of the seats and the further-right coalition Confederation Liberty and Independence holds about 4% of the seats.