Nov 9, 2020
Mass protests erupted in Poland after a national court ruling on October 22 making almost all abortion illegal. Angry protests of mainly women and young people have swept the country ever since. Wearing masks for safety as coronavirus cases surge in Poland, up to a million people have protested nightly. Demonstrations have been organized in at least 70 cities, towns and villages.
Popular banners proclaim, “I wish I could abort my government” and “This is war.” Popular chants include, “We are fed up! We have had enough!” and “I think, I feel, I decide!”
Bianka, 15, and Maja, 16, said to the New York Times that Poland’s youth will not back down. “We don’t want to live in a country where we don’t have a choice, where everything is decided for us.”
The reactionary ruling party of Poland, called Law and Justice (PiS), openly orchestrated this court ruling. PiS has many supporters in rural areas and yet even these areas have seen protests.
Recent surveys find only 15% of the population supports this new restriction on abortion that could leave as little as 2% of abortions legal going forward.
Several protests took place inside Catholic churches, where demonstrators in this largely Catholic country brought protest signs and confronted priests. Rightly so, demonstrators blame the Catholic Church for this new policy. The Church in Poland is reactionary and openly close with the right-wing ruling party.
Priests give sermons attacking women for using contraception or getting divorced. When Pope Francis suggested acknowledging same-sex civil unions, Polish bishops declared this was against Church doctrine.
In response to the protests, the head of the ruling PiS party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has had to step down. Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, remains in power for now, but has coronavirus. Poland’s government delayed a final step on November 2 that was required to turn this court ruling into law. Demonstrators celebrated this small victory—a delay but not a clear overturning.
With coronavirus numbers soaring in Poland and a national lockdown for safety imminent, the protest movement has been put on pause, hopefully to be continued....