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International concerns about women’s rights backsliding in Poland


The worsening state of SRHR in Poland has brought multiple reactions from international human rights bodies. Please below find here the most crucial observations and recommendations.


In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Poland, the Commissioner refers to recent developments affecting the independence of the judiciary; women’s access to sexual and reproductive rights; the deteriorating environment for NGOs active in the area of women’s rights and assistance to victims of domestic violence; and attacks against the independence and effectiveness of the Ombudsman.

Regarding women’s rights, the Commissioner regrets that new barriers are being created to hinder women’s access to comprehensive sexuality education, emergency contraception and abortion care. He urges the authorities to repeal any retrogressive laws and to reject any legislative or policy proposals which would weaken women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Here the main fragment related to SRHR:

“Another issue which I regularly address in my country work and which is of direct relevance for Poland are women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. In my 2016 report on Poland, I made a number of recommendations regarding women’s access to sexuality education, contraception and safe and legal abortion care. My observations and recent exchanges with interlocutors in Poland left me with the impression that the situation in all these fields has worsened since the publication of my report. In particular, I have learned that the provision of comprehensive sexuality education that is respectful of relevant human rights standards is still not ensured. I have also been informed of the recent reintroduction of the requirement that all women obtain medical prescriptions for emergency contraception , abolishing previous policies that had allowed the purchase of some forms of emergency contraception over the counter in pharmacies. This is a move that goes against the recommendation I made to remove barriers in access to contraception for all women in Poland.

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