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Polish president vetoes bill to provide morning-after pill

March 29, 2024

Poland's conservative president said he could not accept a law that provides contraceptive pills to girls under the age of 18. The prime minister has since announced a workaround that would bypass this veto.

Polish President Andrzej Duda
President Andrzej Duda was allied with the former government of the Law and Justice party (PiS)Image: Hannes P Albert/dpa/picture alliance

Polish President Andrzej Duda vetoed a law on Friday that would have allowed over-the-counter access to the contraceptive pill for women and girls aged 15 and up

Duda "could not accept" the bill because it enabled access to the contraceptive pill "without medical supervision and bypassing the role and responsibility of parents," his office said.

He claimed there were no convincing arguments to provide the contraceptive pill to girls under the age of 18.

Catholic-majority Poland saw a rollback of women's reproductive rights under the previous Law and Justice (PiS) government, which Duda was allied with.

The current government led by former EU chief Donald Tusk, in power since December, has pledged to restore reproductive rights.

Contraceptive pills for men?

Government plans workaround

Duda's decision to veto the law was slammed by a number of Polish lawmakers.

"It's a pity that the president is yet again against Polish women," Deputy Education Minister Katarzyna Lubnauer said on social media.

Health Minister Izabela Leszczyna said, "if we don't want women and young girls to get unwanted pregnancies, let's do everything to make the pill as accessible as possible."

Having anticipated the presidential veto, Tusk's government already announced that it would bypass the decision by issuing a directive to let pharmacists prescribe the contraceptive pill themselves.

"We're launching Plan B," Tusk said on social media after Duda's veto.

Equality Minister Katarzyna Kotula vowed to make the morning-after pill available, "regardless of what is the opinion of the president, who bases his decision on superstition rather than on medical knowledge."

zc/ab (AFP, AP, dpa)