An article in the Observer looks at the cross-border travel from Poland to Germany for abortion services, and suggests that the new anti-abortion laws in certain US states won’t stop women seeking abortions. Instead it will mean women will be forced to travel further to terminate a pregnancy, or push them to consider unsafe, potentially deadly, alternatives.
The article says that in Poland, whose government is heavily influenced by the Catholic Church, there are some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe. Women in Poland can legally terminate a pregnancy only if the mother’s life is in danger, if the fetus is malformed, or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. But in most cases, the article says, even when an abortion is legal, doctors will refuse to perform the procedure.
The article says that those who could, that is, the “highly educated and professionally active” women in their early 30s went abroad for the procedure, with nearby Germany overwhelmingly the most popular destination for the “one-time event“, according to a 2017 study examining “Polish abortion tourism“.
They did this because they “were pressed for time” and had to make a decision quickly, and Germany has abortion services that are both free and quick. The 2017 study concluded that up to 200,000 women in Poland are estimated to terminate pregnancies each year and among these, 10-15% are estimated to seek abortion abroad.
The article says that women in the US were forced to travel far and wide to access pre-natal health services well before the recent spate of bans. In December 2017, health officials in Illinois noticed an increase of more than 30% in the number of women crossing state lines to come to Illinois to terminate a pregnancy.
The article states that strict anti-abortion laws don’t stop abortion, they only make it unsafe, or deadly, or a trapping only of the wealthy. It is, it claims, a war on women and the poor—a war on society’s less powerful and more vulnerable.