Reproductive Rights in Poland: When Politicians Fear the Wrath of the Church
Third world quarterly 2010; 31(6): 1007-21
The historical prestige of the Polish Catholic Church is the result of its presence as a national symbol of resistance, both under foreign occupation and during the communist regime. In the post-communist era the power of the Church within the political arena has significantly increased, through the Concordat that was signed with the state as well as through formal and informal ties with political parties. Catholicism is the de facto religion of the state, even if Poland remains a nominally secular country. This was illustrated by the adoption, in 1993, of a total abortion ban. Although the relation of Poles to the Catholic dogma on sexuality and reproductive rights tends to be weak, fearing criticism from Church authorities, most politicians avoid controversial topics and express their commitment to Catholic dogma. Thus women's groups have encountered serious difficulties in their efforts to defend women's rights to sexual and reproductive autonomy. Although accession to the European Union has put Poland in an awkward position with respect to equality of rights between women and men, it has not fundamentally altered the real situation with respect to the controversial topic of abortion.
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