Polish Women Declare Victory Against Abortion Ban
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Polish Women Declare Victory Against Abortion Ban

Power to the people.

Polish Women Declare Victory Against Abortion Ban
NBC News

Polish women declared a victory last week against an anti-abortion group’s proposal for a full abortion ban. The ban declared abortion completely illegal, even in the case of rape, incest, or if it would save the woman’s life. The punishment for violating this law is a 5-year prison sentence for women who seek abortions and doctors who perform them. The proposal landed in parliament mere weeks ago and was seemingly supported.

While the current law states that abortion is illegal except in the case of rape, incest, or the endangerment of the mother’s life or health, the proposal of tightening of the most restrictive abortion law in Europe enraged Polish feminists.

This law is not only restrictive on paper, but also in practice. Many doctors are averse to performing abortions, even when legal. Adequate sex education and effective contraception is not accessible for Polish women. This new proposal would, if passed, make things even more difficult for women and their health.

Besides obvious concerns regarding the proposal, protesters were also worried about doctors administering prenatal tests that might carry risks for miscarriages, such as amniocentesis, which can detect birth defects. If doctors are penalized for this, they may avoid administering these tests, which causes greater concern for all women. On the same note, some women worry that miscarriages may be viewed with suspicion and even questioned.

On Monday, over 30,000 protestors boycotted work and took to the Warsaw streets dressed in black, armed with signs and chants. Within the last week, approximately 7 million women all over Poland were mobilized in the fight for women’s rights.

The widespread disapproval and anger towards this proposal actually turned the parliamentary tide, and lawmakers shocked the country by doing a one-eighty and voting against the bill 352-58.

But this also means much more. While these protests were to stop the law from becoming even worse than it already is, many protesters were protecting the current law and are content with the compromise that was reached. However, this display of pro-choice sentiment across the nation may mobilize the movement even further and lead to Polish feminists fighting for a truly liberal abortion law.

There is a new solidarity amongst Polish women. Krystyna Kacpura, a member of the European Society for Contraception and Reproductive Rights and the Programme Council of the Congress of Polish Women, says that this victory has empowered women.

“I have never seen such huge protests. Something snapped in Polish women; we are empowered and we won’t stop. The protests were so spontaneous: with barely a few days’ notice thousands of women were walking out of work, and if they couldn’t get the day off, many told me, they said to their bosses they would not return because they could not work alongside people who did not believe in their rights.”

These protests were a step in the right direction and the parliamentary decision marks a watershed in the European pro-choice movement. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. With a newly empowered group of women and the recognition that they deserve to be treated with more respect and dignity from their conservative government, perhaps Poland can one day see a free and safe population.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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