Protests Against Abortion Ruling in Poland


“Czarny Protest // Opole // 03/10/16” by Iga Lubczańska is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Julia Kess

For about three weeks now the largest and loudest protests in Poland’s history since the fall of communism in 1989 have been in progress and these protests have the potential to change everything on abortion in Poland. 

Previously, Poland, a predominantly Catholic country, had the fourth strictest abortion laws in Europe. Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal Court decided that abortion in case of fetal abnormalities would now be illegal. Almost all of Poland’s 1,000 abortions fall under this category. This category describes a fetus suffering extreme, life-threatening abnormalities. This means only three legal reasons for an abortion are left: threats to the mother’s life, incest, or if the woman has been raped, according to NPR News

On the morning of October 23rd, protesters and riot police clashed in front of Justice Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s home. The Justice Party is a national conservative and right-wing populist political party in Poland, and the leader serves as Prime Minister. Police reported that officers used pepper spray and physical force when some protesters threw stones and tried to push through the police barricading the house. Later that night, protesters continued to stand their ground in front of the home chanting “This is war” and “You have blood on your hands,” BBC World News reports. Since then, there have been standstills in traffic with protesters taking up the streets in Poland. They are committed to making changes and not backing down.

On Tuesday, November 2nd, the Constitutional Tribunal Court indefinitely delayed the publication of the court’s ruling because of the protests. This prevents any legal force for these abortion rulings, this however does not mean that these rulings are not going to happen. This just delays it. 

The major backlash from the people of Poland on these abortion rulings has truly changed everything. Mara Clarke is the founder of the London-based Abortion Support Network. Clarke leads the movement called Strajk Kobiet, a women’s strike that has organized the nationwide protests, NPR News reports. Protests like Clarke’s have been happening all over Poland as the people demand Justice Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski and the government to step down.

Last Monday, November 9th, police carried off protesters in Poland’s capital. A few hundred protesters marched in downtown Warsaw drumming, blocking streets, and chanting angrily against the right-wing government’s policies. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has been telling people to stay at home and communicate their feelings about the policy via the internet because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Public gatherings have been prohibited because of new regulations. Still, hundreds upon thousands of people in Poland have been taking part in daily peaceful protests according to ABC News.

What the government of Poland doesn’t seem to realize is that even with stricter laws, abortions will continue, only now unsafely. It is estimated that fewer than 2,000 legal terminations are carried out each year, but women’s groups estimate that up to 200,000 abortions are either performed illegally or abroad, according to BBC News. This means that the only thing these laws are doing is hurting and controlling the women of Poland.