Women in Poland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are facing the same tough legislation against women’s choice regarding their reproductive rights. In those countries, once a woman gets pregnant, she can no longer choses for herself, her womb becomes more important.
The current Polish government is what you can call conservative at the very least, and what seemed impossible is actually happening: the Polish authorities are seriously considering to toughen the access to abortion, in a country where it’s already practically impossible to avoid an unwanted pregnancy. So far, only 3 possibilities – in theory – made a woman eligible for abortion: a threat to her own life (and therefore the foetus, let’s remind here that if the woman dies, so does the foetus), a pregnancy as a result of a rape or incest, or if the foetus is not viable (which unfortunately happens). The so-called “pro-life” groups have put pressure to restrain that small window for Polish women. The aim is to only have women access abortion if their own life is in danger. That means that young girls who get pregnant by a member of their own family will have to carry on their pregnancy and be a victim twice. I don’t even want to think about the “rights” of the fathers of those children. It seems just unbearable for those poor women.
It is also an avoidable burden to carry on a pregnancy when you are perfectly aware that your baby is not going to survive, or maybe a few hours or days of suffering. Some women chose to carry on, but for most of them, the idea to have a dead-to-be baby inside is something too difficult to cope with. I am not even mentioning the smiles, the joy of the people around a pregnant woman, how are you supposed to cope with questions and your supposed joy of expecting a child soon when all you are expecting is suffering and death? If miracles happen and your faith allow you to believe, good for you, you’re allowed to keep it until labour has come. Doctors are no gods and if they assure you that there is no hope for a happy ending of your pregnancy, that is not called an abortion. Ending a pregnancy with a foetus carrying a fatal disease is called a termination, that is very different and should not even be confused with the discussions on abortion.
A total ban on abortion would mean to put women’s life at a high risk
A total ban on abortion would mean to put women’s life at a higher risk in Poland than elsewhere in the world. When you put a foetus’ life before its mother, that can lead to a disaster like the Savita‘s case in Ireland. This woman who was having a miscarriage was refused care until it was too late to save her life. If a ban like this was to pass, who would want to take the risk of becoming pregnant in Poland?
Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, the only part of UK where abortion is still forbidden (as well as gay marriage, but that’s another matter) and where religion has still a strong influence on politics, a young woman is facing criminal charges. What happen to women in Ireland who want to end an unwanted pregnancy? They don’t have a choice but to travel to England, which is the most hypocritical situation the island faces. But traveling to England means money, and in that case this young woman could not afford it, even less having the baby. So she did what she thought would be a good plan B. She ordered abortion pills online, with all the risks that occur, and did it at home. It worked but very soon her flatmates discovered what she did and reported her to the police. You can hear those stories (minus internet) back in France in the 60’s. Thing is, it’s 2016 and women are still compelled to a very restrictive law, and no right to a single mistake throughout all her reproductive years. If you do the maths, every month during at least 25 years, that’s A LOT of opportunities to make a mistake. And paying it with a very high price.
Let’s hope that this case will out light on the whole hypocrisy of sending Irish women to England and just turning a blind eye to the reality. The figures are there, thousands of them are traveling to England every year, the ones who can afford it. Basically if you have money and you can legally travel to England, you’re safe. If you’re too poor, too bad for you, you’re stuck. That is not only hypocrite and stupid, but that is mostly unfair.