Sunday, 2 October 2016

Black Monday tomorrow

No, I am not predicting a stock market crash tomorrow. The black colour stands for solidarity with thousands (if not millions) of Polish women who are about to go on an all-out strike tomorrow, a protest akin to the one staged by females in Iceland in 1975, when a one-day walkout virtually paralysed the small country, yet has gone down in the history as a day when women successfully called out for their rights.

The initiative of the strike in Poland is the reaction to a proposal of tightening the already restrictive (by European standards) abortion law, i.e. banning the abortion at all, regardless of circumstances. The widespread voice of objection is similar to many Pole’s reaction to PiS (unfortunately successful) attempts to tamper with constitutional tribunal nearly a year ago. Yet, while independence of judiciary power and separation of three powers is an issue far in the background for an ordinary citizen, changes to the abortion law may have tremendous impact on lives of several families.

The current abortion so-called compromise allows for abortion in three general situations: when a pregnancy is an aftermath of rape, when life of a future mother is in danger or when a child is bound to be born incurably ill, disabled, handicapped or dead. Recently the parliament received two draft laws, drawn up by civic movements. One, putting forward liberalising access to abortion, has been turned down right away, while the other, submitted by ultra-pro-life activists, prohibiting abortion at all, has been pressed ahead to further proceedings.

PiS, seeing Poles’ approach to ban on abortion (nearly 50% of the surveyed are in favour of retaining the status-quo “compromise, around one-fourth would liberalise the abortion law, while slightly less than 20% would forbid it all) and bearing in mind the draft law is not their own, is going go back down and ease off some the most brutal provisions of the pro-life’s proposal, but the abortion law in its new shape will very likely be more restrictive in than today’s wording. The outcome is predictable – we will see more gynaecologists’ offices in basements offering “triggering menstruation” and more women will travel to Czech Republic and Germany to terminate pregnancies.

I hope the purport of the protest will be broader than standing out against tightening the abortion law. The strike in Iceland is reported to have brought the country’s society closer to partnership model of marriage / relationship. Although there has been improvement in Poland in this respect, many Polish men still need to be reminded traditional division of rules ought not to be imposed on women. Raising children and running the house and the accompanying obligations should be shared more or less equally among spouses, unless they both agree on a different apportioning of roles. The problem in Poland is still that a man who returns home from work is tired enough to lie back on a sofa, sip beer and watch TV, while a woman starts her second unpaid job, namely cooking, washing up, cleaning up, ironing, doing homework with children etc.

Tomorrow in the office I am standing in for a female colleague who is going to take a day off on demand, therefore I will co-ordinate a regular bi-weekly committee. Besides, I have offered to stand in for any woman willing not to turn up to the office. Though actually I do not expect the scale of the protest at the New Factory to be impressive, as in any private corporation where political views are hardly ever flaunted.

To make it clear, just like any human of sound mind, I am not in favour of abortion. Pregnancy termination is always an evil, but in situations in which I believe it is justified, especially those in which it is currently permitted, it is a lesser of two or more evils. Nonetheless, I am supportive of whatever can be done to avoid abortions which are often a result of unwanted pregnancies. Consequently, I am rooting for unbiased sexual education in schools, including familiarising youngsters with contraception. I am also calling for access to morning-after pills (which I believe is a late contraception method).

The discussion on abortion is not just about facts but about beliefs. If I am convinced a bunch of cells which might develop into an embryo, than into a foetus and be born, is not yet a human being, but just a bench of cells, my approach to abortion is pro-choice. Pro-life activists believe a zygote is already a human being, therefore a natural implication of their reasoning is that even taking a morning-after pill is a murder. The current abortion compromise rests on the foundation that pregnancy cannot be terminated at the stage when a foetus can survive (aided by medial devices or not) out of mother’s womb, this borderline moment is the 24th week of pregnancy.

Some people believe killing animals in order to eat their meat is an atrocity and therefore become vegetarians. Some people believe pregnancy must not be terminated, no matter of circumstances. I am of the opinion in situations when abortion is permitted by law, doctors should present it to their patients as one of two options and not encourage a woman neither to carry the child until birth nor to terminate the pregnancy. It is a matter of patients’ consciences and beliefs, so give them the choice!

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