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We are publishing the full transcript of Marta Lempart’s speech delivered on June 22 during the parliamentary debate on the citizens' legislative initiative "Legal Abortion Without Compromise" signed by over 200,000 people. The bill was voted down the following day.
Mr Speaker, High Chamber. Today I have the honour to appear before you in a very formal and very significant role - as the plenipotentiary of the Committee of the Citizens' Legislative Initiative "Legal Abortion Without Compromise". Today, I represent not only myself, but also the more than two hundred thousand people who have signed the project to introduce health care standards similar to those in civilised countries.
I come to you with a bill which changes Polish law so that it meets European and world standards in the area of the protection of women's life and health.
I come to you with a bill which adapts Polish law to the reality in which we all and everyone live - our reality and your reality, including your daughters, sisters, wives, mothers and friends. All of us.
I come with a bill whose regulations are based solely on hard data, which is based solely on facts, which is based on what it should be based on: the science that is medicine.
I come here with a bill which is not only in line with the Constitution but, above all, removes from legal circulation regulations which are contrary to our Constitution, which are not in line with science, which are not in line with European and world standards and, above all, which removes the effects of the recent extra-constitutional actions of Ms Przyłębska's team sitting in the building of the former Constitutional Tribunal.
Our entire bill is simply a repair programme. One of many that we need - in terms of protecting the health of people in Poland, which, firstly, introduces a substantive, scientific and legal standard for the protection of women's health in terms of access to a medical service which abortion basically is. It is a remedial programme which, secondly, eliminates widespread abuse and the massive ongoing practice of violating women's right to access health care.
When we talk about standards, we mean really basic things. We are talking about the fact that a pregnant woman has the right to terminate her pregnancy up to the 12th week of its term. It is up to the woman herself to decide whether she will make use of a medical service such as abortion during this period. This is what women do in countries such as: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Greece, Spain, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Hungary and Italy (and these are only European Union countries) - in countries where World Health Organisation standards are in force, in countries which comply with international standards of health protection and with the obligations assumed by them in the area of human rights. Poland is not currently such a country. Let us put this right. This must be rectified! This is what our project guarantees.
We are talking about a pregnant woman having the right to terminate that pregnancy up to the 24th week in qualified cases. What cases are these? Those which create the reality of a real, practical ban on abortion in Poland. They create a dead law.
After the statement by Mrs Przyłębska's team sitting in the building of the former Constitutional Tribunal, hospitals in Poland are condemning women to torture by denying them medical services, such as abortion, in the case of irremovable defects in the foetus. We are losing, and will continue to lose, cases before the European Court of Human Rights - each time because of torture and inhumane treatment. And women will die. Let us put this right. Our proposal ends this sadistic practice.
Under a 1993 law, it is the prosecutor in Poland who decides whether a pregnancy resulting from a crime can be terminated. And he decides on it with passive resistance, refusing for weeks to issue the certificate necessary to benefit from a medical procedure such as abortion.
The result of the fact that pregnancies which are the result of a crime are not terminated within the framework of the law in force is that this takes place, obviously, outside the system - despite the fact that the law (theoretically!) guarantees such a procedure. Let us put this right! Our project puts an end to a dead law.
In theory, Poland also has a provision which is supposed to save the life and health of pregnant women by guaranteeing them an abortion in the event of a threat to that life and health. Izabela from Pszczyna and Agnieszka from Częstochowa have experienced how it works in the current anti-abortionist practice. Women who end up in hospitals, where doctors are paralyzed by fear and who miraculously succeed, have seen how it works. Above all, people in Poland who do not get pregnant know how it works - we have the lowest birth rate since the Second World War, because women know the risks involved. Let us put this right! Our project puts back the protection of the health and life of pregnant people by guaranteeing them, in danger, the abortion they need. Not. One. More.
A key question: how can we ensure that access to abortion, which is legal, safe and free, is not a dead law and does not depend on whims, ideology or politics? We all know what it looks like now - abuse of the religious clause, unlawful formal barriers, unnecessary examinations, fictitious commissions, systematic playing for time, for weeks. To harm. To humiliate. To make things difficult. To make the law dead. Let us fix it!
Our project introduces the obligation to provide a medical service, which abortion basically is, within 72 hours of the request introducing a uniform procedure for providing this service and a guarantee of considering an objection to a refusal to provide the service within 24 hours.
Our draft introduces the obligation to have the ability to provide a medical service, which abortion basically is, even if all doctors in the institution invoke the religious clause by contracting with an appropriate subcontractor (who will provide such a service).
Our proposal abolishes the unlawful use of the religious clause by doctors for activities that are not medical services (such as writing prescriptions).
These are all solutions in line with the recommendations made to Poland by the UN Human Rights Committee back in 2016 - they concern access to legal, safe, free abortion. They say that placing a provision according to which the provision of medical services (in any case) is a crime and is punishable, in the Criminal Code - is absurd, it is a confusion of orders. Providing a medical service is not, cannot be and will never be a crime.
It’s 2022, isn’t it high time? Don’t you think?
Ladies and gentlemen, you have got a great, great opportunity to do something completely ordinary. Something completely normal, completely standard. The obvious.
66% of Polish citizens support access to legal, safe, and free abortion up to the 12th week.
97% of female and male voters on the Left support the right to legal, safe and free abortion up to the 12th week.
88% of voters in the Civic Coalition are in favour of legal abortion. I know that the Civic Coalition club supports our project, and the parties that make up the Civic Coalition support legalising abortion up to the 12th week. Thank you all very much for that. Changing your mind is very difficult, it takes time, work and courage, and I am very grateful to you.
83% of the voters of Poland 2050 are in favour of legal abortion. Will you listen to those whom you represent in the Sejm (I am asking the members of this group)?
52% of the female and male voters of the Polish People's Party are in favour of legal abortion. Will at least half of you vote 'yes'?
44% of Confederation voters are in favour of legal abortion. Here, too, I expect almost half of the votes "for".
Also in favour of legal abortion are 34% of the female and male voters of the Law and Justice Party. One third of the votes "for" - that's how it would translate. That's an increase of 10% in a year and a half. I wonder what has happened?
Today we are asking a very simple question: yes or no?
Ever more people in Poland realize that a ban on abortions does not mean the end of abortions. Ever more people in Poland believe that medical services should be decided by medical standards alone.
Ever more people in Poland believe that women know what they are doing.
I would like to quote one of the promises about how citizens' projects will always go to committee, that they will always be there at second reading. Perhaps there are people who believe in this, so perhaps on their behalf: my dear Law and Justice party, you made such a promise, so perhaps this is the one you will keep.
I am just one person here. Nobody has to listen to me. Nobody has to listen to Marta Lempart. But what you see in the polls, what you see on the streets of Poland from 2016, what you saw in 2020 - this is the voice of the sovereign. Your sovereign. A voice that I know well and can advise you - do not ignore it.
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