PES hails European Parliament resolution supporting Polish women’s rights, calls for assessment on Rule of Law

26/11/2020

S&D at women's protest outside the European Parliament

Socialists and Democrats stand in solidarity at a women's protest outside the European Parliament, 25 November 2020. Pictured L-R: Evelyn Regner MEP, Black Brussels Balloons activist JoBee Joanna Pszczoła, S&D Vice-President and PES Vice-President Heléne Fritzon MEP, S&D President and PES Vice-President Iratxe García, Javier Moreno Sánchez MEP, Evin Incir MEP, Lewica leader Robert Biedron MEP, and Marc Angel MEP.

The Party of European Socialists hails the resolution approved with a broad majority by the European Parliament supporting Polish women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) against the attacks from state institutions, from the PiS-led government to the judiciary. The PES believes that violations of fundamental rights are a Rule of Law issue and, as such, a matter of EU competence.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“Access to abortions is access to healthcare and they will not go away just because Polish conservatives are too stubborn to see reality. They are pushing Polish women across the border or to undergo unsafe secret abortions in Poland. That is a punishment against women, it is wrong and should not be tolerated. We commend the hundreds of thousands of women and men who, despite COVID and the excessive use of force by the police under the direction of the interior ministry, have taken to the streets following the shameful ruling of the ‘Tribunal Court’ to protest against the latest restrictions on abortion and the climate of intolerance and hostility against LGBTI people. This conservative push is not what Europe is about. It must have consequences.”

The PES supports the work of our member party Lewica and the women’s organisations behind the Women’s Strike.

Women's protest outside the European Parliament

Women's protest outside the European Parliament, 25 November 2020. Picture: Katja Ziska

We commend the S&D Group in the European Parliament who led the efforts to secure cross party support for the resolution, and in particular the work of MEP Robert Biedroń - vice-chair of the committee on women’s rights and gender equality - as the European Parliament’s negotiator on this file and S&D Leader Iratxe Garcia, who sent the clear message that Socialists and Democrats stand in total solidarity with Polish women.

The PES backs the resolution, which affirms that the denial of SRHR is a form of gender-based violence, condemns Poland’s announced withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention – a move which leaves Polish women unprotected – and supports the Rule of Law conditionality built into the next MFF.

Stanishev said: “Rights do not exist if they are not applicable to everyone. In Poland only 10 % of hospitals contracted by the Polish National Health Fund provided legal abortions. This is a matter of the Rule of Law and equal protection before the law. We will make sure that EU money is only managed by governments who respect fundamental EU values.”

The PES welcomes the wide cross-party support for this resolution, a testimony to the non-partisan nature of fundamental rights.