4 December 2023

False: Polish president did not recently indicate changing or reversing the anti-abortion law

The last time the Polish president indicated making any changes to the abortion law was almost two years ago. Meanwhile, Polish health authorities recently introduced a measure to record pregnancies, seen as a doubling-down on the government’s anti-abortion stance.

On July 3, a tweet praising the power of women claimed that “today,” after a week of demonstrations denouncing the abortion ban, the president of Poland implied the law might be changed or reversed.

An image of a woman waving a rainbow flag was attached to the tweet.

In another post, the same user wrote millions of women were holding protests “right now” in the country after the government tightened restrictions on abortion.

The tweets in total have been shared over 17,000 times and received more than 73,000 likes as of this writing. Similar posts have also been shared on Instagram.

These claims are false, however.

Annie Lab could not find any record of President Andrzej Duda indicating on July 3 that the current prohibition against abortion will be amended or changed.

There was no local news report or official announcement from his office. No recent protest against the near-total abortion ban in Poland has been reported, either.

An image search revealed that the tweeted photo can be traced back to Nov. 1, 2020, to an Instagram post by Polish actress Karina Seweryn, showing a protest against the abortion-related ruling at the time.

The same image posted by Karina Seweryn on her Instagram account.

The image was widely shared then on various social media platforms including Facebook with hundreds of thousands of engagements.

This photo became the unofficial face of the cause in late 2020.

The language in the false tweet was also lifted from the old social media posts in 2020.

An Instagram post shared by American actress Milla Jovovich, another one by London based makeup artist Kay Montano, a solidarity tweet from Polish film producer Marta Habior and a Facebook post from the Feminist News page all had the same line indicating that the anti-abortion law could be changed or reversed at the time.

The misleading tweet posted in 2022 has the exact same language found in various social media posts in 2020.

On Oct. 22, 2020, the Constitutional Tribunal in Poland ruled that abortions because of fetal defects are unconstitutional, banning almost all abortions except for pregnancy by rape or incest, or when the woman’s life is in danger, according to news reports.

Mass protests against the ruling began throughout the country on the same day. Hundreds of thousands of people in about 50 cities reportedly took to the streets. On Oct. 28, workers joined a nationwide strike under the slogan “Nie idziemy do roboty” meaning “we are not going to work.”

The Polish government subsequently looked into a possible compromise with the president suggesting a new law that allows abortion when the fetus is stillborn. But Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki defended the top court’s ruling.

The continued protests delayed the procedure but the verdict was officially ratified and published on Jan. 27, 2022, sparking a fresh wave of demonstrations.

The viral tweet also claimed that protests were triggered by the “newly elected right-wing government” banning abortion but the last parliamentary election was held on Oct. 13, 2019 with the leading right-wing party Law and Justice Party (PiS) having won 43.6% of the popular vote.

In early June 2022, Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski signed an order that requires doctors to record pregnancies.

The move is described as a possible “tool of repression” by opposition lawmakers as it could be aimed to detect illegal abortions.

Meanwhile, the Polish government rejected a bill allowing abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy in the same month.

The resurfacing of the iconic image also came after the landmark overruling of Roe v. Wade in the United States in late June 2022.

Federal constitutional protection of abortion rights in the country was revoked and, as a result, individual states were granted permission to ban abortion entirely.