My name is Kelley Temple and I am the Secretary of Abortion Rights. Abortion Rights is the national pro-choice campaign and we campaign to defend and extend abortion rights in the UK.
We have just come from another protest in support of the two women in Northern Ireland who have been prosecuted this week for procuring abortion pills and we ‘handed ourselves in’ to the police station in solidarity with women in Northern Ireland.
While the 1967 Abortion Act gave women in England, Scotland and Wales a legal right to abortion, the Act was never extended to Northern Ireland. Abortion still sits in criminal law that was passed in 1861, which is before the light bulb was even invented.
We stand in solidarity with women here in the UK and around the world whom are denied their right to safe and legal abortion.
Abortion Rights are here today at the Polish Embassy because as you know, Polish women’s rights are under threat by this new government. Poland is one of the countries with the most restrictive laws on abortion in the EU, yet the government is proposing to strip women of their reproductive rights all together.
I spoke to some Polish sisters this week who told me that the anti-choicers leading the campaign to ban abortion in Poland oppose women controlling their own bodies; think that a foetus should have more rights than a woman; and they just don’t care if women die in the process.
Abortion Rights believes that forced pregnancy is always wrong and we know that safe, legal abortion is safer than pregnancy and birth. We also know that banning safe, legal abortion does not stop abortion because women and pregnant people will always need abortions.
As you have heard from the previous speakers, Polish women already have very limited abortion rights with abortion being illegal in Poland except for cases of rape or incest, foetal damage or threat to the life of the woman. This new proposal removes women’s access to legal and safe abortion completely and even a miscarriage could be punished with a sentence if foetal murder enters the criminal code. Women would also lose access to the morning after pill and IUDs as these would be classed as ‘abortion tools’.
Let’s be clear, the consequence of this proposal will mean that women will be forced to travel to other countries for abortion if they have enough money or forced to seek dangerous methods to terminate their unwanted pregnancies if they don’t. It is one rule for the rich and one for the poor. So while this is an assault on all women, it is particularly an assault on the poorest women.
We offer our support and solidarity to the brave Polish women who are fighting to defend their rights. There are expected to be ten thousand people protesting in front of the Polish Parliament in Warsaw today. Abortion Rights is proud to be standing behind Polish women in this fight.
In countries where abortion is illegal, for every maternity ward of happy women, there are two wards of women injured and dying from backstreet abortions. Polish women deserve accessible and affordable abortion healthcare without having to return to the backstreets. No return to the backstreets! If you live in the UK, join the fight and join Abortion Rights.
It is great to be here among so many of you today and I believe it is important to show the Polish government that we are watching and show Polish women they are not alone in this fight; we are 100% behind you!