Two new polls have found that around half of the public support the proposals recently put forward by Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s centrist Civic Coalition (KO) and one of its coalition partners, The Left (Lewica), to introduce abortion on demand.
A poll by the IBRiS agency for broadcaster Radio Zet published on Wednesday asked respondents whether abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy should be allowed in any circumstances and without providing a reason.
Just over half, 51%, of respondents supported the idea while 43.4% were opposed and 5.6% did not give an opinion.
„(…) <Tak> na pytanie o legalną aborcję odpowiedziało 51 procent ankietowanych. 43,4 procent było przeciwnego zdania. Odpowiedzi <nie wiem/trudno powiedzieć> udzieliło 5,6 procent osób. (…)”https://t.co/2Exizxnlgd
— Robert Woźniak ♿🚭♊ (@RobertWoniak15) January 31, 2024
Today, another poll by the same agency for the Rzeczpospolita newspaper asked respondents what they thought of the bills recently submitted to parliament to allow abortion on demand up to the 12th week of pregnancy.
An almost identical proportion, 50.4%, said they thought the proposed changes should be accepted by parliament while only 20.8% said they preferred the current near-total abortion ban to remain in place. A further 12.7% said they were not sure.
The remaining 16.1% said they wanted a referendum to be organised to decide on the issue. That idea has been proposed by the third group in Tusk’s coalition, the centre-right Third Way (Trzecia Droga), whose leaders oppose the current law but do not support abortion on demand.
Kliknij w zdjęcie, aby przeczytać więcej🔽https://t.co/KLRo5eA9bj
— Rzeczpospolita (@rzeczpospolita) February 2, 2024
Last November, after elections had resulted in the ruling national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party losing its majority but before Tusk’s new government had been formed, The Left introduced a bill to parliament that would allow abortion on demand. Last week, KO submitted a similar bill of their own.
Any such change would not only reverse the near-total abortion ban introduced under PiS but would create a more liberal abortion law than existed previously.
Between 1993 and 2021, abortion was allowed in only three circumstances: if pregnancy resulted from a crime (such as rape or incest); if it threatened the mother’s health or life; or if the foetus was diagnosed with a severe birth defect.
A 2020 ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal (TK), a body widely seen as being under the influence of PiS, outlawed the third of those justifications, which had previously accounted for over 95% of legal abortions in Poland. It went into force in January 2021.
Opinion polls have regularly shown that the TK ruling is opposed by a large majority of the public. After PiS lost its majority at October’s elections, the party’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, admitted it had been a “mistake” to push for the tougher abortion law.
However, although all polls show a majority in favour of liberalising the abortion law, when respondents are presented with a choice between returning to the pre-2021 rules or going even further and introducing abortion on demand, polling usually does not produce a clear majority in favour of either option.
Tusk and Lewica also face a number of political hurdles if they wish to introduce abortion on demand. Without the support of most MPs from the Third Way, they cannot secure a parliamentary majority. The other two main groups in parliament, PiS and the far-right Confederation (Konferedacja), also oppose abortion on demand.
Moreover, even if an abortion bill is passed by parliament, it can be vetoed by President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally and conservative who has opposes abortion on demand. Meanwhile, the TK, all of whose judges are PiS appointees, could rule any such law unconstitutional.
PM @donaldtusk’s political group has submitted a bill to introduce abortion on demand
That would undo the near-total ban introduced under PiS and create a more liberal law than before
But Tusk admits he may not have enough support from coalition partners https://t.co/I3mIZee8RE
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) January 25, 2024
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Main image credit: Dawid Zuchowicz / Agencja Wyborcza.pl
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, EUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.