Label’s Entertainment Editor Sophie Alexander details the impact of Poland’s new abortion laws and the protests erupting across the country in response.
In the last few weeks, Poland has erupted with ongoing protests surrounding new abortion restrictions. Poland was already known to have tight abortion laws, with an estimated 200,000 women going abroad or having illegal abortions every year. Yet in October 2020, a ruling by the Constitutional Court found that the 1993 law, which allowed abortions due to foetal abnormalities, was no longer defensible.
The new restrictions now only allow terminations if the pregnancy was a result of rape, incest or if there’s a serious threat to the mother’s life. This means that the 98% of abortions that were carried out in 2019 due to foetal abnormalities are no longer a feasible reason for termination; meaning this ruling is a near-total ban on abortion.
Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) party has been accused of pushing forward an ‘ultra-conservative agenda’; though the party has denied their influence on the Constitutional Tribunal to which the EU has said politicized the courts. There were, however, some court judges who took issue with the government’s justification. Telling Polish legislators to use words like “child” and “mother” instead of “foetus” and “pregnant woman”, they that using more personal and less formal terms will help appeal their case.
As could be expected, the surprise announcement that the ruling would take full effect at the end of January saw many pro-choice supporters outraged with Poland’s conservative government. In defiance of the ongoing pandemic, more than 400,000 people and protestors across the country took part in the Women’s Strikes movement with red flares and LGBTQ+ flags demanding that women have “the right to decide” what they do with their bodies. Protestors also wore green headscarves in honour of Argentina’s movement which saw the legalisation of abortion.
These protests have said to be the biggest in the country’s recent history, with the Mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski, stating “It’s not only women whom you’re bringing to the streets, it’s the whole nation that has had enough”.
Considering the amount of illegal abortions that were carried out in Poland before this new ruling, it is certain that such cases will continue to rise, placing women in difficult and dangerous situations. With the huge uproar against this new ruling, there does seem to be a glimmer of hope for the citizens of Poland but as protestors seem to have a long and tiresome fight ahead of them, it seems change will not be made anytime soon.
Edited by Izzie Naish – News Editor
Header designed by Christos Alamaniotis – Head of Design