Thursday, October 22, 2020.
On this day, Poland’s constitutional tribunal ruled that abortions for fetal abnormalities violate the country’s Constitution, which means – imposing a near-total ban in a country that already had one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe.
Julia Przyłębska, the tribunal president, said that allowing abortions in fetal abnormalities “denies the respect and protection of human dignity”.
Before that decision, Poland allowed abortions for fetal abnormalities, a threat to women’s health, and incest or rape. However, most performed abortions (1074 of 1100 – performed last year) resulted from fetal abnormalities, making it impossible for polish women to obtain a legal abortion. Many of them have to seek help outside of the country or, in many cases performing it illegally and dangerously.
Kaja Godek, the most famous Polish “Pro-life” activist, is the abortion ban initiator. After it was announced, she proudly stated that a ban on abortions in case of rape and incest is only “a matter of time.” She’s also known to be extremely homophobic, making statements such as “the gays want to adopt children in order to rape them.”
The protests and the “Polish sisterhood”
“I will defend my sisters” – that’s one of the most popular chants that you can hear and see all over Poland. Women are standing united for their rights and are showing the government and the world the power of polish sisterhood.
Ever since October 22, there have been daily protests and strikes all over Poland.
The amount of people protesting is overwhelming. Almost every city had a strike. The streets are blocked, cars are making barricades, they are ready to fight for what’s important. The youth is angry, and they intentionally choose very vulgar chants and banners, mostly against the right-winged party named “Law and Justice.”
Police estimated that over 430 000 people took part in the protest. But that’s only in Poland. The Polish community all over the world is standing united right now. Every day, more and more cities protest, such as Rome, London, Tokyo, Chicago, NYC, Berlin, or Madrid.
One of the most powerful politicians, the ‘Law and Justice’ leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, called for his followers to defend the churches after the protesters spray-painted the churches after Sunday masses. Many of his followers took his words as to make an attack. And that is what happened. Right-winged party supporters attacked many women that took part in the protests.
On the other side, protesters were even marching to the houses of the people responsible. Their addresses were circulating all over the internet. Some of the more conservative people claim that protesters are too vulgar and aggressive, and they should tone it down because it’s not “the way” to achieve anything. But women are furious, and they have every right to be.
Indeed, the abortion law was only the catalyst for many different things, such as the country’s lack of rights and support.
Women and human rights in Poland
The situation gets even worse when we look at the overall ‘women and human rights’ in Poland. Birth control access is very limited; the government founds only two types of birth control pills. Doctors even have the power to REFUSE prescribing pills if it’s “against” their personal belief.
Sexual education in schools is almost non-existing. The classes are usually led by catechists or biology teachers. Lessons are outdated, very conservative, and, most importantly, sexist.
Adoption is a very long and complicated process. It is estimated that almost 80k kids are in orphanages, yet only 1 in 10 children will be adopted, and the average wait time is four years. The conditions in orphan homes are inadequate as the houses don’t get enough money from the government. The Polish government is also openly homophobic and against same-sex marriages. During his candidacy Polish president, Andrzej Duda proudly stated that “LGBT people are not real people, they’re just an ideology”, making it impossible for LGBTQ people to adopt unwanted kids.
Poland also remains one of the last European countries where patients aren’t allowed to perform in vitro fertilization. There is also very little to almost no support for people with disabilities. They are consistently discriminated against without getting the professional help they need. Single mothers and women with complicated and compromised pregnancies lack the psychological and material support from the government. Most of them cannot afford private health care. Therefore, many women are left on their own.
So, needless to say, they made us very angry. Anger is not even the word we should use in that situation.
What do we fight for now?
However, some might say that now the fight for abortion rights disappeared a little as people shifted their anger into the government. The slogans changed, and now the main target is the ‘Law and Justice’ party. Many say that people needed a specific factor so they could take all the resentment out.
It was very much needed, but it does bring a question if the woman strike might get lost in all the fury? Will there be a real change considering our bodies? But the protests are not stopping. Every day there are more and more people all over the world supporting us.
So what comes next? We keep on fighting. This is war.