Abortion has never been fully legal in Poland, although the state would allow it in extreme circumstances.
The new constitutional court’s ruling stated that abortion will be prohibited in a case of foetal defects. This would mean that a woman would be forced to give birth to a foetus who would die right after birth.
This near total ban of abortion came into light on the 22nd of October with the decision not being able to be appealed. This would mean that abortion would only be legal in cases of rape or in a case where the mother’s life would be in danger.
Kaja Godek a pro-life activist has been the face of this “Stop Abortion” bill from the very start. Earlier this year she appeared in parliament to put forward this exact bill – this time with the support of the Polish president Andrzej Duda. This was quickly stopped by women pouring onto the streets in protest, and #StrajkKobiet flooding social media. As a result, a final decision has been postponed.
The government used the backdrop of Covid-19 to put strict measures in place, effectively suppressing the protest. They thought that as they were protecting the nation from the pandemic, they had the right to take away basic human rights from women.
The ruling triggered an instant reaction.
Shortly after this was announced women of Poland marched onto the nation’s streets protesting as much as they could. Protests and strikes were organised in almost every single major city where women and allies made sure their concerns were heard. From protests outside the Polish parliament in Warsaw, to nationwide student strikes, those angered made sure that people would listen.
After the protests flooded the nation, the vice-premier and leader of the ruling party PiS, Jaroslaw Kaczynski broadcasted a speech in response to this urging the need of “protecting the country” and “defending churches at all costs”.
Directly after this decision was announced, Kaja Godek appeared on TV where she was praised and celebrated by men. Godek stated that the total ban of abortion is just round the corner, as she works on eradicating abortions at all costs throughout the country. A mother who had the choice to give birth to her two children is now advocating for the absence of choice for 19 million Polish women.
Poles around the country have been using the phrase “This is War” and plastering coat hangers and images of the red lightning bolt – which earlier this year were a massive symbol for this movement- all around Poland.
The Catholic church is a huge institution that Poland is influenced by and so this isn’t the first time an outrageous decision has been put forward. The introduction of LGBT+ free zones created a massive disbelief amongst the country. The Polish President has always been open about his beliefs when it comes to abortion, and its safe to say that he has a very old-fashioned outlook on life. From calling LGBTQ+ an “ideology”, and stating that LGBTQ+ people “aren’t people”, to supporting the “Stop Abortion Bill”, his views are very extreme.
As the second week of protests against the abortion ban rolls around, the government have put this ruling on pause as a response. However, this decision is indefinite.
Eliminating abortions will not stop them- it will result in more dangerous ways whilst we move back in time.