Power to the... Church?


In January 2003 the Polish Government announces that a referendum will be held on June 8 to determine public opinion on joining the European Union. The discussion about the referendum to enter the European Union also affects the debate about abortion.


During the run-up to the 2001 general election the now-ruling Democratic Left Alliance promised to liberalise abortion laws but seeks the support of the Roman Catholic Church to join the European Union in June 2003. The Church offers its backing on one condition: that the existing abortion laws will remain in place. Roman Catholic officials in Poland are "demanding" that European Union officials add a clause to the treaty that upon entrance into the European Union Poland's anti-abortion laws will remain intact. The Polish government caves in to the Church's pressure and sends a letter to the European Union to seek assurances that "no EU treaties or annexes to those treaties will hamper the Polish government in regulating moral issues or those concerning the protection of human life.”
The Polish women’s organisations ask Women on Waves to postpone the ship's visit to Poland until at least two weeks after the referendum is held. They all want to become part of the European Union but are afraid that the ship's arrival might negatively affect the outcome of the referendum.