After abortion was banned in Poland, the Conservative Catholic Party created the Project to Support Women who gave birth to a stillborn child or discovered that he would have fatal defects.
One of the project's ideas is to provide pregnant women with a hospice room in which "they can cry." The project has sparked outrage in Poland, which occasionally protests for women's rights.
"You get a private room and the opportunity to cry"
It all started with a "viral" quote from the press secretary of the Ministry of Justice of Poland, Agnieszka Borowska. She said in an interview with TVN24 that her department has developed a plan to support women who will give birth to children with defects after the abortion ban. They say that in perinatal hospice centers there will be "tear rooms" where women can cry in private.
"The woman in the hospital is waiting for support. She should have a separate room, the opportunity to cry, see a psychologist, special care, instructions on what to do next," she said.
This caused a real storm on social media.
"I would like the Polish state to do everything so that women do not have to cry," journalist Renata Grochal wrote on Twitter.
“Many of us do not want to give birth to children with fatal defects. The problem is that the government, including Zbigniew Zebro (Minister of Justice - ed.), forces all Polish women to carry sick children ... We will not cry quietly, because your boss has decided so. You will not lock us in the rooms for screaming ", the journalist Natalia Valoch wrote an emotional post.
"A pregnant woman with a risk of fatal fetal defects, in Poland you are forced to bear and give birth in a perinatal hospice, there you will get a separate room and the opportunity to cry," blogger Monika Mesuret writes.
"I used to watch a series where there was something similar, but then I thought it was fantastic. It was called The Handmaid's Tale ", commented Michal Kolanko.
Trying to get out of the crisis
How did this idea even come about? The fact is that in Poland at the end of January a law banning abortions for fetal pathology came into force, which caused mass protests. Disability, Down syndrome, and the likelihood of a serious incurable fetal disease do not give the right to terminate a pregnancy.
An exception was made for termination of pregnancy, which threatens the woman's life, or if she becomes pregnant due to rape or incest. This decree actually introduces a ban on abortion in Poland. This approach to abortion is supported by the Catholic Church in the country and the Law and Justice Party (PiS).
Since then, protests have been raging across the country for months. In connection with the mass actions and the new law, the authorities are considering proposals on how to help such women.
The bill on "rooms for tears" was proposed by the party of the Minister of Justice Zbigniew Zebro Solidarna Polska after the protests. Solidarna Polska is a conservative Catholic party, it has only 19 members in the Sejm out of 460, but it is part of the coalition together with the ruling Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (PiS).
The ruling PiS party has not yet commented on this initiative. Despite criticism, Solidarna Polska on February 3 invited the coalition to discuss the bill.
Polish President Andrzej Duda prepared his own version of a compromise in the fall - a norm that allows abortion in the event of a high probability of death of a baby. When tests show a high probability of a stillborn baby or he has an incurable disease or defect that will lead to his death despite treatment. The presidential project has already been sent to the Seim of Poland.
TVN24 suggests that adoption of this amendment is unlikely. But the coalition MPs might vote for the provision of hospices with "rooms for tears."
"Such a woman cannot be in the room with a happy mother."
The bill proposes to create special institutions for pregnant women forced to give birth to children with severe pathology - perinatal hospices. Also, women will be assisted by a psychologist, they will be given advice on what to do next.
The project deals with the appointment of medical coordinators and assistance in hospitals of the II and III degrees, medical consultations of specialist doctors, providing complete information about the state of health, as well as maintaining the secrecy and dignity of the patient.
"You also need a separate room where the parents or only the mother of the child can be at peace. If the child is terminally ill, the doctor should send the child to hospice. Women can use this or not - it is their right, but such systemic solutions will support women who are suffering from grief," said Borovska.
It is planned that the doctor will inform the mother that she can use hospice services. The decision to use hospice services will be a right, not an obligation.
"A woman who knows that her child will be born with a fatal defect should not be in the room next to a happy mother who knows that she will give birth to a healthy child. This is an additional psychological burden for a woman, we cannot allow this," the deputy Chairman of the Solidarity Poland party Michal Wojcik stressed.
The project also regulates the procedure for the burial of a child who died after birth. The politician noted that now there are about ten such hospices, but in Poland, there are regions where there are no such institutions and people do not know about their existence.
Response to criticism
After the scandal, the TVN24 channel published all the interviews from which the "viral" excerpt was distributed. Borowska herself also published a video message on Twitter, where she accused social networks of taking her words out of context.
She said that she herself had lost a child, and she knows what the condition of women in the hospital is when they find out that their pregnancy is life-threatening or that the child has serious defects, in particular fatal ones.
“I had no right to cry, there were other women in the room. When I asked the doctor what my child looked like, he said:“ So big, purple. ”Should any mother be treated like that?” said Borowska.
According to her, the project on supporting women with difficult pregnancies gives "the right to a dignified attitude, closeness, sympathy", and "those who doubt these needs are the enemy of women."
However, even a personal example was not perceived by opponents as an excuse for creating "rooms for tears." Social media users cited the withdrawn right to terminate pregnancy in severe cases as opposed to the “right to dignified treatment”.