Anti-Abortion Laws in Poland – #The Revolution Is Female
By Weronika Kowalska
The motion to delegalize abortion in Poland followed through on the 30th of October, resulting in the biggest protests the country has seen since the fall of Communism in 1989. The Constitutional Tribunal, consisting mainly of judges selected by the Polish leading party – Law and Justice (PiS) – chose to ignore years of women’s struggles and protests, adding onto an already unstable political situation.
Poland is returning to its state of communism, one that took decades and countless lives to abolish. Abortions are now only allowed in two instances – if the foetus threatens the mother’s life or in the event of rape. Most abortions prior to the delegalization were due to foetal abnormalities, which are now illegal as it violates the Constitution. Doctors are entitled to refuse contraceptives and even performing legal abortions on religious grounds.
In the event of COVID-19 earning the status of a global pandemic on the 11th of March this year, new rules specifying social distancing were set up for the public’s safety, however these protests cannot be postponed. Thousands of Polish citizens took to the streets on Friday, with little regards to their own personal safety. What ensued was a series of arrests, attacks, and even injuries on the behalf of the protestors. The protest resulted in over 20,000 more cases, with hospitals barely struggling to keep up.
What is perhaps most shocking, is that 33 million of 38 million citizens are registered Roman Catholics, and the sheer outrage directed at the Church means the situation is becoming increasingly more unstable. Poland is a deeply religious country, even as more citizens turn away from the institution, particularly after the set-up of LGBTQ-free zones earlier this year. Some nationalist extremists have taken it upon themselves to ‘guard’ the Church, armed with pepper spray and calling themselves the ‘national guard’. They attack peaceful protestors, particularly women, a situation which would have been unthinkable a couple of years ago.
Politicians discourage these protests in a poor effort to keep the public safe – Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki received a wave of hate for his public statement on Friday morning. The question remains – why restrict laws now? The answer is simple – to distract the public from the rising virus numbers that the government cannot deal with. They can now blame protestors for Poland’s huge infection statistics, which, is a convincing argument for many Polish voters to further support the party.
The truth is that Poland has been divided since PiS gained power in 2015, the virus is only a catalyst for more disasters that only serve to show how little political leaders care about their citizens. There are so many controversial politicians in Poland’s political scene – Jaroslaw Kaczynski (leader of PiS) refuses to accept any form of appeasement, even going as far as to saying that the aim of the protests is to destroy the Polish nation. Przemyslaw Czarnek (education minister) threatened to cut funding to those universities that encouraged protesting, which just displays the party’s true core values – education and human rights clearly not one of them.