Poland’s President Duda Promises Veto on Liberal Abortion Aid Bill Amid Legislative Tensions

Warsaw, Poland — Polish President Andrzej Duda has declared his intention to veto proposed legislation that seeks to liberalize the nation’s strict abortion laws. The bill, advanced by the more progressive factions within Poland’s ruling coalition, aims to decriminalize any assistance given to women in obtaining abortions up to the twelfth week of pregnancy. Currently, under Polish law, individuals involved in facilitating abortions can face up to three years in prison.

During a recent interview with the TVN broadcaster, Duda expressed a firm stance against the bill, stating, “No, because for me abortion is the killing of people.” This strong position resonates with Duda’s ongoing conservative alignment, particularly in light of his connection to the national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, which previously held power.

The proposed legislative changes have ignited significant debate in Poland, a country with some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Notably, the government’s majority in the lower house, the Sejm, passed the initiative for further legislative review earlier this year. This includes three other bills aimed at easing these stringent laws.

Despite these developments, the path to law remains arduous. The most conservative elements of the ruling coalition, particularly the center-right Polish People’s Party (PSL), have voiced reservations. A recent vote revealed a split, with several PSL members opposing the advancement of the bill to the committee stage.

The legislation in question would not only decriminalize assistance in obtaining abortions within the first trimester but also eliminate penalties for such assistance in cases where prenatal testing indicates a high likelihood of severe and irreversible fetal anomalies. This reflects a broader shift toward a more permissive approach to abortion under certain medical circumstances.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk, leader of the centrist Civic Coalition (KO) and a prominent figure in the current coalition government, has been a vocal advocate for the bill. On social media, Tusk reaffirmed his commitment, stating, “We will vote to decriminalize abortion. We’re done with the discussion, it’s time for decisions.”

This stance marks a continued push against the boundaries of Poland’s conservative social policies, including debates over same-sex civil partnerships, which have also seen legislative movement under the current coalition.

Despite these efforts, the prevailing political climate and Duda’s veto power pose significant challenges. The president has criticized many of the coalition’s progressive policies since taking office. With his second and final term approaching its end next year, the forthcoming presidential election could be pivotal in determining the future direction of policies like these.

As the bill makes its way back to the Sejm for voting, its success hinges largely on coalition unity and the potential for overriding any presidential veto. The outcome will not only affect Poland’s legal landscape but also reflect broader societal shifts and the ongoing global conversation around reproductive rights and women’s autonomy.