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WATCHODOG INTERVENES. Equality of men and women – family planning.

Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning (The Federation) focuses on the women’s reproductive rights. Here is one of their intervention campaigns.

At the end of May 2012, the Federation took action regarding the situation that some pharmacist refuse to sell contraceptives. Since the mid 2011, there is a discussion on including the so-called ‘conscience clause’ in the Polish law. The supporters of this solution expect that it will be legal that pharmacists decide whether or not they sell different medicines (The Federation is critical about such a solution and prepared a choice of the European Court of Human Rights’ jurisdiction regarding this issue). Therefore, on the basis of the existing law such possibility is not only controversial, but mostly illegal. Regardless of that fact, some pharmacists use the non-existing legal explanation for their refusals. The vocational self-government (that is a corporation to take care of the professional and ethical behavior of some chosen “public trust vocations” , including pharmacists) did not react to situation of breaking of the existing law. Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning addressed the Main Chamber of Pharmacists (the vocational self-government) and the Main Pharmaceutical Inspectorate (control office) with the open letter to take action and stopping those illegal practices. The Main Pharmaceutical Inspectorate answered with a letter that confirmed Federation’s stand that such practices are illegal and explained where complaints concerning individual cases should be sent.

At the same time, the Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka Foundation prepared another action to mobilize public institutions to take action, which is a petition to the Ministry of Health. This allowed more people to join the action and served as a dissemination tool.

At the end of July 2012, the leader of the one of the right wing parties (Marek Jurek – Right of the Res Publica) called the Office for Registration of Medicinal Products, Medical Devices and Biocidal Products to withdraw two products from the pharmacies, namely escapelle and uno-one claiming that they cause spontaneous abortion. In his opinion they are illegally accepted to be distributed. The Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning referred to this call pointing out that the politician is wrong about this issue. Those two medicines represent a group of emergency contraceptives that prevent pregnancy instead of causing abortion and are legally accepted to be sold.

Update (October 2012): As the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights is currently performing a study on access to medicines the Federation shared its concerns in terms of access to contraception. The Office replied and assured us that the comments made by the Federation will be considered in the forthcoming study.

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