Poles divided over proposed abortion ban
Abortion | Opponents took to the streets to protest while supporters went to church to pray
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 10/03/16, 04:48 pm
Polish women took to the streets Monday to protest the country’s proposed abortion ban, wearing black and refusing to go to work or attend school. While the protests drew international media attention, supporters quietly went to church to pray for the ban’s success.
Thousands of women and men, some carrying black flags, marched through the streets of Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw, and other cities holding signs that said “No to the abortion ban.”
The strike led to the nickname, “Black Monday,” and followed on the heels of a large street protest Saturday in front of Warsaw’s parliament building.
Women at City Hall in Czestochowa refused to show up for work, a restaurant in Wroclaw closed to let female employees join the protest, and organizers called on housewives to forgo cooking and cleaning.
The protest’s organizers took inspiration from a 1975 strike in Iceland, during which 90 percent of Icelandic women refused to take care of their children, cook, clean, or go to work.
Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said the protesters drew attention away from the main issue: “We expect serious debate on questions of life, death, and birth. We do not expect happenings, dressing in costumes, and creating artificial problems.”
Abortion has been illegal in Poland since 1993 except for cases of rape, danger to the mother's life, or fetal deformity. For some Poles, this is strict enough. Sitting in a Starbucks with friends also on strike from work, 34-year-old Agnieszka Krysztopolska said the new law would go too far.
“I have two children and it’s not like I am some kind of hardline feminist, but I do not agree with somebody depriving me of the right to my own health or that of my children. I think this bill is just dangerous,” she said.
Currently being debated in committee, Poland’s “stop abortion” bill is the second attempt in the mostly Catholic nation’s recent history to ban abortion completely: Polish parliament members narrowly defeated a previous abortion ban bill in 2011.
Although 450,000 Poles signed the “stop abortion” initiative requesting the legislation, compared to 200,000 who signed a competing initiative called “Save Women,” the ban’s opponents have been louder than its supporters. Counter-protesters gathered quietly for special Masses on Monday.
At one such Mass at the Basilica of Warsaw-Prague, Archbishop Henryk Hoser reminded the hundreds of people in his audience that life is sacred.
“Everyone, regardless of its origin, regardless of their affiliation, his religion, his culture, no matter when and where he was born, every person is endowed with the breath of immortality, which depends on God,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.