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While last year’s ruling by Poland’s politicized Constitutional Tribunal imposed a near-total ban on abortion, Polish women are still free to travel abroad to countries that allow such procedure and terminate their pregnancy there with no legal consequences.
Ordo Iuris, the ultra-conservative Polish organization promoting anti-abortion and homophobic policies, is perfectly aware of this legal grey zone.
In a recent interview with the weekly magazine "Wprost", Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, admitted that the abortion ban his party helped to push through last October is practically a dead letter:
"There are advertisements in the press than any person of average intelligence understands and can arrange such an abortion abroad, cheaply or expensively".
Ordo Iuris, however, chose to focus on another passage from the same interview: "The decision of the Constitutional Tribunal has a legal and moral character, in practice it may be different, but I believe that also in the practical sphere something will change" – Mr Kaczyński also said. The president of Ordo Iuris, Jerzy Kwaśniewski, referred to these words while explaining why his organization is now eyeing "abortion tourism" and online sales of abortifacients.
As always, the organization is waging its legal crusade against women’s reproductive rights in a multifaceted and professional way. Here is what the Catholic fundamentalist lobby has in store for Polish women.
Blitzkrieg against women
First of all, while preparing the new policy proposals, Ordo Iuris intends to refer to the 2014 Supreme Court decision which ruled that providing a phone number to foreign abortion clinics and organizing a trip to perform the procedure is a crime under Article 152 of the Polish Penal Code. Specifically, the article states that assisting a woman in performing an abortion, even with her consent, is punishable by up to three years in prison.
The organization started by pointing out legal loopholes which allow women to freely travel abroad to have an abortion procedure while at the same time punish anyone who helps them to do it. Abortifacients, which can be bought with the help of women's rights organizations, are another issue on the fundamentalist agenda. Ordo Iuris has already prepared legal analyses on the subject and sent them to the Chief Pharmaceutical Inspector, the Office for Personal Data Protection, and the Tax Office.
Mr Kwasniewski himself reveals the tactics his organization chose to pursue: "The sum total of minor cases and sanctions will add up to an ailment that makes it impossible to carry out murderous and criminal abortion activities in Poland. At the same time, the prosecutor's office may be persuaded to take more extensive action by publicizing proceedings related to the most flagrant cases of mockery of the dignity of the state and the law".
No more „abortion tourism" in Slovakia and the Czech Republic
Ordo Iuris has just filed a criminal complaint with the National Prosecutor's Office against Natalia Broniarczyk, one of the leaders of the Abortion Dream Team, an organization that provides women with abortifacients for performing medical abortions at home.
-Natalia Broniarczyk spoke openly and with disregard for the Polish law about the fact that her organization has ‘helped’ to kill about two thousand children outside Poland. The activist also talked about encouraging and facilitating access to abortion drugs- Mr Kwaśniewski wrote in the Ordo Iuris newsletter while asking readers for donations.
The ultra-conservative organization is also preparing another complaint. This time, it concerns the issue of "abortion tourism". It has contacted anti-choice organizations in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, where Polish women usually go to receive the medical procedure.
An analysis of all regulations which should be changed in order to prevent women from terminating pregnancies abroad has already made it onto the desk of the Minister of Justice. There is no doubt that he will read very carefully.
According to lawyers from Ordo Iuris, while Slovakia and the Czech Republic have legalized abortion, this does not apply in the case of short-term stays. They believe that by going there to seek pregnancy termination procedures, Polish women are violating local laws. With the help of Czech and Slovak lawyers, the fundamentalist organization wants to close the doors of abortion clinics for Polish patients.
Oro Iuris want to censor online activism
Another issue on the organization’s agenda is the sale of abortion drugs on the internet. Ordo Iuris sees it as illegal trade in pharmaceutical products of unknown origin, which is punishable by three years of imprisonment.
But there is more. Ordo Iuris also wants to drastically curb other activities of pro-choice activists on the Internet. While the prosecutor's office and the court rejected a criminal complaint the organization has filed against the administrators of the Dziewuchy Dziewuchom (Girls for Girls) Facebook profile, it didn’t become discouraged and had already announced further prosecution of online abortion activists.
Among other things, it claims that the web facilitates and encourages the use of abortion pills of unknown origin and that such pharmaceuticals are sold on the market without legally required permits.
Mr Kwasniewski boasts that copies of conversations that women have in closed internet forums will serve his organization as evidence.
Comparing women’s rights NGOs to organized crime groups
"Like the mafia bosses of the prohibition era who were convicted on tax offenses, today, these organized abortion groups can be held accountable for a number of minor, but easily demonstrable offenses" - writes the head of Ordo Iuris, jokingly drawing parallels between women's rights organizations and Al Capone.
That mafia boss was eventually convicted on charges of tax crimes and that is exactly what the ultra-conservative organization intends to do: soon, the treasury will receive a report that NGOs such as the Abortion Dream Team are hiding income from illegally sold abortion drugs.
What about GDPR?
The Catholic fundamentalists are also planning to co-opt the General Data Protection Regulation into its blitzkrieg against women’s reproductive rights. In their view, running an abortion hotline where Polish women can inquire about the possibility of terminating a pregnancy at home or abroad violates GDPR provisions. Mr Kwaśniewski points out that the activists who run the hotline are illegally processing sensitive personal data.
Ordo Iuris will demand that the data collected by the hotline be immediately secured and investigated and that the people who collected it are held accountable.
The organization also wants to investigate whether the women's conversations with the activists took place in compliance with all medical advice procedures, as they point out that uninformed advice may be misleading and can pose a threat to the woman's life.
No more emergency contraception
Last but not least, Ordo Iuris is also eying emergency contraception, the so-called "morning-after pill". Although the Law and Justice party has already drastically reduced its availability by introducing mandatory prescriptions, Ordo Iuris wants to take it even further. The organization argues that the name "emergency contraception" is incorrect, because the EllaOne pill is in fact an early abortion pill, and as such violates the Polish anti-abortion law.
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