Thousands of participants across Poland took to the streets Sunday against the new law advanced recently by the ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) which would ban all abortions.
The gatherings took place in Poland’s ten biggest cities and also in other major cities worldwide under the slogan #CzarnyProtest (Black Protest), put forward and organized by Dziewuchy dziewuchom (Wenches to Wenches), a feminist organization which opposes the strengthening of the current abortion regulations.
The demonstrations also gained support from a variety of anti-PiS political groups such as The Committee for Defense of Democracy (Komitet Obrony Demokracji, KOD) and the left-wing political party Razem (Together). The feminist organization has put together similar protests since the bill was brought to the table earlier this year by a citizens’ initiative backed by the Catholic Church.
“The existing law is one of the most restrictive in Europe,” Krystyna Kacpuro, director of the Federation of Women and Family Planning, stated. “Getting access to their legal abortion rights is already a hard road for many women. For example, in Podkarpackie region in southern Poland, all the hospitals and doctors have signed a conscientious objection letter refusing to carry them out.”
The existing law, according to a poll last week by Newsweek Polska, is supported by 74% of Poles and only allows around 2,000 legal abortions on average per year. Abortion is permitted only in a few cases, for example if the pregnancy could threaten the mother’s life, in cases of probable miscarriage or in cases of rape and incest.
This PiS-backed measure, however, would remove these exceptions and propose sentences to jail for women who break it. Moreover, it would make it illegal to freeze embryos or to fertilize more than one egg at a time, in an attempt to prevent in vitro fertilization – a controversial practice in the largely Catholic country.
Protesters opposing the law argued that the change would put the life of women at risk and force girls as young as 11, who had been raped or subjected to incest, either to give birth or face going to jail. In addition, Wenches to Wenches claims that the law would lead to about 100,000 illegal abortions each year.
This new wave of demonstration took place after several attempts to block the new proposal in the Polish parliament failed. The new abortion law was therefore sent last week to committee – the final stage before adoption.
The Polish house is dominated by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS), a conservative, right-wing party whose members declare themselves obedient of the Catholic values. Observers say the government is proposing the strengthening of abortion laws in accordance with the Church, whose support helped the party win elections last year.
The policy of Prime Minister Beata Szydlo’s government is attempting to provide any form of support for large families in order to boost the country’s stagnant birth rate.
— CrystalVolpe (@duskadanka) September 24, 2016
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