I know what is best for you all over the world: one word: abortion

I know what’s best for you: Stories of reproductive freedom, edited by Shelly Oria, is a multi-genre anthology focusing on the reproductive rights crisis in the United States. The book’s international supplement features sixteen additional works of fiction, non-fiction, and art by contributors around the world. Order the book, and receive the supplement, I know what’s best for you all over the world, free as an e-book. Editor and author Shelly Oria will be on tour throughout the summer of 2022, joined by contributors to the book as well as many other writers and artists.

By July 1, 25% of sales of I Know What’s Best For You: Stories of Reproductive Freedom support the Brigitte Alliance. Delivery of this title will also be free until the end of the month. You can donate directly to their abortion travel services program here.

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One word: Abortion
by Sylwia Chutnik

Prior to the systemic transformation, abortion was legal in Poland from 1956. It was not until 1993, when the then government wanted to make a “donation” to the Catholic Church, that the law changed. was amended so that termination of pregnancy could only be possible in three cases: when the pregnancy threatened the life of the mother, when it was the result of a crime committed, or when there was a high probability serious and irreversible damage to the fetus or an incurable life-threatening illness. After the judgment of the Constitutional Court, this last point was deleted. In practice, women have to travel abroad or order pills online to have an abortion. The Polish provisions are among the most restrictive in Europe and in the world. Perhaps the marriage of politics and church activity is to blame for this.

I have been active in the feminist movement in Poland for over twenty-five years. I have always been a kind and sympathetic activist, who will put my arm around your shoulder and explain everything to you again like a patient woman. I will explain what feminism is and why abortion should be legal.

What’s it like to be a mother and work for women’s rights at the same time? You know, all those infuriating questions asked by journalists, internet trolls, and men concerned about my morals. I responded, explained my position and quoted the data as well as the statements of the party concerned, ie the women.

And then I turn on the television, where experts in everything—almost never women—debate reproductive health and the uterus. And then I hear about bills that would condemn, for example, the birth of children resulting from rape.

something has to change, I thought when I saw the news. How long is it possible to bow politely in front of an accusing crowd and recite a single poem? To say that self-determination is a human right? That a woman is a person with her own identity and her own values? That it is her and only her who must make the decisions concerning her life?

Abortion in Poland is “scandalous” in theory, but not so difficult to perform in practice. Constantly talking about the “unborn child” eclipses the essence of the problem. There is no sex education in our country, and IVF is not subsidized. In October 2020, the Constitutional Court, under pressure from the right-wing government, banned abortion for fetal malformations.

You don’t want children? It is your problem. Do you want children? It’s also your problem. And again, those who have the money can and will go to neighboring countries for surgery, and the others will use home methods or pills ordered on the internet to try to terminate the pregnancy. Thanks to organizations like Abortion Without Borders, people know they are not alone if they want to terminate their pregnancy. The slogan of the women’s strike demonstrations was the promise “When the state does not protect me, my sisters protect me”, and the hashtag #nigdyniebędzieszłasama – #you will never walk alone – became one of the most popular.

Politicians and conservative advocates of the fetus generally favor the death penalty. And those who feel sorry for the “unborn” despise the born at the same time, especially the “born” who do not share their opinions. Hypocrisy is part of human nature, which is why it’s so easy for someone to say: give birth to a child from rape. Giving birth to a child who will depend on his parents for the rest of his life and will have to be supported in one way or another for a few pennies of nursing allowance.

Regardless, women will bear the brunt of it.

There are other arguments too, ones that communicate a staggering contempt for women. Because she could have avoided getting pregnant and didn’t, she would have to pay the price. It’s one of my favorite “wisdoms” – that you should have protected yourself. That you, as a woman, should have done it a different way. If not: well, now you have to pay for it.

Of course, not everyone can afford contraception, and it doesn’t always work. When the word “penis” is not mentioned once in family life education classes (led, for example, by catechists), is it any surprise that all knowledge derives from pornography? And in such films, pregnancy does not occur.

The latest report produced by the Ponton Group’s sex educators leaves no illusions: our young people learn about sex by themselves via the internet or their friends. The messages from the schools are disconcerting: they say that abortion is the dismemberment of babies in the stomach, that all pedophilia is pederasty, that masturbation leads to mental illness. So when a woman has an unwanted pregnancy in her adult life, she feels alone with it. If she qualifies for legal abortion, then she has to go through the roadmap of a nightmare. And it’s no surprise women talk about post-abortion syndrome – if you keep telling someone they’re sinning, it’s hard not to get paranoid afterwards.

Women are treated as passive beings who are not fully capable of understanding what is happening to them and their bodies. Men blackmail with a silent cry – a belly like a cradle and killing –you have to give birth: we are not interested in your feelings and your needs.

I’m sure if men were to give birth, abortion would be legal. Even in Catholic Poland.

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Sylwia Chutnik is a writer, publicist, social activist and reading promoter from Warsaw, Poland. She is the winner of the 2008 Polityka Passport (literature). Three times nominated for the Nike Award (in 2009, 2012 and 2015), she has published books in Germany, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, North America, Serbia and Lithuania .

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