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Poland seeks to ease access to 'morning after' pill

January 24, 2024

Poland's new ruling coalition is looking to undo the restrictive measures the previous government introduced in 2017, which saw the "morning-after" pill provided on a prescription-only basis.

Emergency contraceptive pills
Emergency contraceptive pills or the "morning after" pill require a prescription in Poland after laws were tightened in 2017Image: Artinun Prekmoung/PantherMedia/IMAGO

Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Wednesday said his government was ready to ease restrictions on access to emergency contraception measure the "morning-after" pill.

Cabinet approved a draft law that seeks to undo the prescription-only policy introduced by the former Law and Justice (PiS) party government.

Draft legislation to head to parliament

"The topics at today's meeting included the finalization of works regarding the so-called day-after pill. The matter has been finalized, the draft will be sent to parliament," Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, told a press briefing.

Tusk said the prescription-free emergency contraception would be available for women over 15 years of age and said that he hoped the legislation would be backed in parliament and signed into law by the president.

Previously the emergency contraceptive had been available over the counter in 2015, on the recommendation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

That changed in June 2017, when the Polish government brought in legislation limiting access to the emergency contraceptive, which required a prescription for the pill following consultation with a doctor.

Tusk said his government was also looking to ease a near-total abortion ban, although the issue is contentious in the traditionally Catholic country.

Tusk's push for reform facing key challenge

While Tusk has vowed to undo several of the previous government's policies and to punish officials accused of wrongdoing during their time in office, his efforts are facing challenges from the country's highest office.

Conservative President Andrzej Duda, who is allied to the PiS, can veto laws that come before him.

On WednesdayDuda pardoned two convicted former government ministers who were arrested earlier this month.

Former interior minister Mariusz Kaminski and his deputy Maciej Wasik were convicted of abuse of power for actions taken in 2007.

In another key battleground, the push to reform Poland's state-owned media outlets faced an obstacle when Duda vetoed the new government's budget for public media, which had in turn been scaled down under a PiS government.

Tusk's government is also trying to roll back changes to the judiciary and the Supreme Court that led to the EU suspending funds for Poland over concerns on rule of law standards. 

kb/msh (AFP, Reuters)