Women’s Reproductive Rights as a Political Price of Post-communist Transformation in Poland
Joanna Diane Caytas
Columbia University, US
About Joanna Diane
Ms. Caytas holds a B.A. in mathematics from Columbia University and was awarded the New York Women’s Forum Education Award, a Hayek Fellowship, and international speaking assignments. As president and director of two NGOs active in Polish affairs, her service encompassed the full spectrum of human rights issues affecting women in Poland. This article developed from a paper delivered at a graduate seminar at Columbia University. The author would like to express her gratitude to Professor Oksana Kis and Hon. Anamah Tan for many helpful conversations and a wealth of valuable comments.
Following Poland’s change of regime in 1989, the country enacted Europe’s most restrictive legislation on reproductive rights and steadily tightened this regime ever since. Later, a liberal Polish government was presented with the choice between liberalizing abortion law or Catholic Church support for the referendum to join the European Union. This article discusses the genesis and background of Polish law on reproductive rights in the context of public health as well as its enforcement, its near-irreconcilable conflicts with international human rights law and established precedent. It examines the economics of abortion and analyses the interests of politicians, the clergy and health care professionals.