The apparent ban on abortion in Poland is an example of how the free movement of people and goods in the European Union affects the effectiveness of introducing similar rights. For if something is allowed in one EU country and forbidden in another, then the citizens of the other are not separated from avoiding the bans by the law, but by distance or cost, writes The Economist.
Across the European Union, abortion law varies significantly – the EU does not (and probably does not want to) have competence in the area of reproductive law in the Member States, writes a prestigious London weekly magazine in its latest edition.
As a result, the regulations in individual EU countries cover almost the entire spectrum: from relatively liberal regulations in force, for example, in the Netherlands, to very restrictive ones introduced, for example, in Poland, and even a complete ban on abortion without exceptions, functioning in Malta.
Consequently, activists from organizations such as Women on the Web can, completely legally, offer interested persons only advice on the subject of abortion in Poland. On the other hand, activists located and operating, for example, in the Netherlands, can thus provide interested persons from Poland with the booking of flights, the assistance of translators, and even payment for medical care after they have an abortion in that country. Due to the fact that such a procedure is allowed in the Netherlands, the support will also be fully legal.
What's more, it is also possible to send the so-called abortion pills directly to the place of residence of the person interested in such a procedure. Thanks to the free movement of goods, there are no additional restrictions related to the shipment of parcels within the EU.
In practice, therefore, due to the specificity of the EU right to free movement of persons and goods, locally imposed bans lose their effectiveness, as citizens to whom they relate can relatively easily and legally bypass them – sometimes even without having to cross the border.