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Oct 4, 2022
Poland Tries to Quell Crackdown Fears After Pregnancy Data Move
(Bloomberg) -- The Polish government is seeking to reassure women -- the country’s biggest protest group -- that a new system of digitalizing pregnancy data isn’t meant to further restrict their reproductive rights.
Under the new regulation in place as of Saturday, doctors must upload information about pregnancies to a newly-created digital system of patients’ medical data. The government says this is in line with European Union standards. But the measure has caused an uproar among opposition politicians and some activist groups, who said the government is trying to create a “pregnancy register.”
It has also sowed fear and confusion among women who have sought advice since the requirement came into effect, according to the Federation for Women and Family Planning, a non-governmental group that has been fighting to protect reproductive rights in Poland for over three decades.
The organization said the concerns are unfounded, but nevertheless it stokes potential tensions between the government and a large portion of the population. “The register generates so many emotions, because we already have a restrictive law and women simply don’t believe in the government’s good intentions,” Krystyna Kacpura, the group’s head, said by phone.
Abortion Ban Turns Women Into Enemy of the State in Poland
A decision two years ago from the country’s top court, which is stacked with ruling-party appointees, imposed a near-total ban on abortions. That sparked weeks of protests across Poland in the biggest show of defiance against the populist coalition that has held power for seven years.
Since that amendment, pregnancies can be terminated only in case of rape or incest, or if the woman’s life is in danger due to -- among other reasons -- irreversible or lethal damage to the fetus. Last year, European lawmakers condemned the law after a young woman died from a septic shock because doctors hesitated to perform an abortion.
“There is no such thing as a ‘pregnancy register’ and there never will be one,” said Wojciech Andrusiewicz, the spokesman for the Health Ministry.
While the regulation doesn’t pose any direct legal threat to women, it may have some unindented consequences as women may skip early medical care, according to Kacpura.
“‘We are trying to explain to women that there is nothing to be worried about, but obviously we’ll not be able to reach everyone,” she said. “As a result fewer women will be under medical supervision during their pregnancy.”
(Adds details about the law in sixth paragrah.)
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