Image by Lorie Shaull from flickr
Rosie Pundick sheds light on outdated religious laws that still ruin lives in some countries
On 27th January 2021, women all over Poland and the world wept in despair as the abortion law was passed. A law that took away women and girls’ rights to their own bodies. From this day on, women in Poland only have access to a safe and legal abortion if their life is in danger or the pregnancy is a result of a criminal act.
Just three months previously, there had been hope to overcome this new law. The near total ban triggered a two-week protest in the streets of Poland, led by the women’s rights group: Ogólnopolski Strajk Kobiet. An activist and mother of one, Paulina summed up the protest saying “enough is enough” with others holding signs: “This is War!” and rioting against the Catholic government.
The Catholic Church holds that abortion is wrong as “human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.” Whilst respecting someone’s religious belief is important and necessary, this belief has been implemented in the lives of women. They now do not have a choice over their bodies because of the disregard for separation of Church and State.
In a modern world, it is surely backwards for religion to dictate what someone does to their body
As someone who grew up Jewish and attended Jewish schools, I was taught about my religion’s views on abortion. They are similar to those of Catholics in the sense that life is valued, and so abortion is prohibited unless there is a reason, such as the health (mental or physical) of a mother. However, I was also taught by women around me, that no matter what religion dictates, just as each person has the right to be religious and not choose to have an abortion themselves, a woman should be able to have the right over her body.
In a modern world, it is surely backwards for religion to dictate what someone does to their body. For years, men have been dictating a women’s body, restricting our choices and freedom, and “enough is enough.”
Not all women are born to bare and raise children and the idea that, because a woman falls pregnant, she must succumb to her ‘womanly’ duties is outdated. The new law in Poland is outdated reverting back to the 19th century when other Catholic countries such as Ireland, implemented a ban on abortion.
It is terrifying to comprehend the fact that women’s lives need to be put in danger for the government to listen
Both Poland and Ireland have had a long history of Catholicism dictating laws. In 1861, the Irish Supreme Court banned abortions in all cases. This feels like a long time ago, but not until 2018 was the ban completely lifted. You may be reading and smile at this, and even though a woman getting the right to her own body should be celebrated, there is a dark history to how this act came about.
In 1992, the X case: a 14-year-old girl who was raped and, suicidal, attempted to visit England to get an abortion, she wasn’t allowed. In 2012, the Savita Halappanaever case: a woman who died after they refused an abortion during a miscarriage, just because the foetus had a beating heart. In 2013, the Amanda Mellet case: she had an abortion in an unsafe hospital and, a week later, the aborted foetus turned up at her doorstep. Three cases, three women.
Is this what it takes for a government to realise they are ruining the lives of women and girls?
It is terrifying to comprehend the fact that women’s lives need to be put in danger for the government to listen.
Giving a woman her reproductive rights is necessary. If anything, it can be life-saving.
Banning safe and legal abortions doesn’t stop abortions, it just increases the likelihood of unsafe abortions. In Egypt – a country that prevents abortions at all costs – between 1995 and 2000, there were 2,542 maternal deaths due to unsafe abortions. This number should be zero.
The idea that these officials who are preventing a woman from having a right over her own body call themselves ‘pro-choice’ is almost sickening. To have the prefix ‘pro’ in front of anyone who puts a life in danger is a contradiction. They are anti-choice, anti-freedom, anti-safe health care.
This must be stopped. Women’s safety is being jeopardised along with their basic human rights. Giving a woman her reproductive rights is necessary. If anything, it can be life-saving.
It feels like there’s nothing we can do, but this is never the case. To help, you can sign petitions, you can sign up at abortion clinics in your local area, to walk women in and comfort them. The “Women’s Equality Party” have formatted a petition to the EU.
We can help restore a woman’s freedom, save her life, and give her basic rights back to her.
Enough is enough.