Polish Women Protest Abortion Ban

Aislinn Lavery, Writer

Over 430,000 people gathered in Poland last week to protest a new ban on abortions, 100,000 of whom were located in Warsaw, the capital of the country (CNN). Women also protested through walkouts at their workplaces and schools.

But why? On October 22, a court ruling deemed that abortions due to fetal defects, which made up over 98% of legal abortions in Poland in 2019, were unconstitutional.

This law would mean that abortion was only allowed in Poland in cases where the pregnancy threatens a mother’s health or occurred through sexual assault or incest.

Abortions would be illegal even if the child has a fatal disease or defect. 

Supporters for this ruling defend it with the argument that abortions should not occur in the case of children born with Down Syndrome or other disabilities.

On the other hand, protestors condemn it with the belief that carrying through a pregnancy where the child will be stillborn or die right after birth creates unnecessary pain for both the child and the mother.

Protesters hold signs reading in Polish "women's strike" as they block a crossing in downtown Warsaw, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, on the 12th straight day of anti-government protests that were triggered by the tightening of Poland's strict abortion law and are continuing despite a anti-COVID-19 ban on public gatherings. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
The red lightning bolt has become a symbol for pro-choice protestors. Source: AP

Due to the protests, the Polish government has delayed the publication of the court ruling (AP).

However, according to pro-choice leader Krystyna Kacpura, hospitals have already stopped providing abortions in anticipation of the law, so it is as if the ruling has already taken affect (TIME Magazine).

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. source: Brittanica.

 The Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, has asked for protests to stop due to the danger from the Coronavirus pandemic, and called for discussion between protest leaders and the government.

Protestors are angry with the Polish government because they believe that the new ruling is an attempt to please the Catholic Church, which is extremely powerful in Poland. The church denies having any control over the passing of this law, but that hasn’t stopped protestors from disrupting church services to show their anger.

While the drama of the Presidential election in America has taken over many people’s minds right now, the Polish protests serve as a reminder that human rights issues all over the world deserve our attention and care.