Right to abortion limited in Poland

Law prohibiting abortion in Poland is enforced and women return to the streets.

The declaration was decided suddenly, but the women's movement will not give up: demonstrations in more than 20 cities.

Polish women are back protesting in the streets against the law limiting the right to abortion.  Large demonstrations motivated by the Strajk Kobiet movement, (literally, women's strike) were held in at least twenty cities after the government announced the publication, and simultaneous entry into law, of the Constitutional Court ruling that prohibits abortion, except in cases of incest, rape or danger to the life of the mother.

Also read: Record pro-choice protestors rock Poland after abortion ban

The wave of protest was launched by Strajk Kobiet with appeals on Facebook and other social media outlets.  “It's going to be a difficult night," said Klementyna Suchanow, one of the two leaders of the movement along with Marta Lempart.

On Wednesday afternoon, the government announced that the law would come into effect that evening, practically at the same time as it was published in the Official Gazette, a proclamation that had long been postponed, giving rise to hopes of a compromise.  Now, however, it has re- incited confrontation.

The Supreme Court's decision dates back to October 22, 2011 when it declared any kind of abortion unconstitutional because it does not comply with the articles of the Fundamental Law on the protection of the life of the unborn, except for abortions requested by women who are victims of incest or rape, or in cases where there is a danger to the life of the mother.  It is also illegal to terminate a pregnancy in the case of serious and fatal malformations of the fetus and health problems that imply the inevitable death of the newborn after birth.

Since then, Strajk Kobiet has quickly become the most important opposition movement in civil society.  "If the government has chosen hell for women, we will cook up hell for this government," Suchanow said, inviting women to take to the streets once again after protests in November.

more than 200,000 abortions performed clandestinely

In Poland, prior to the change decreed by the Supreme Court, according to official data, there was an average of two thousand legal abortions each year, including abortions decided for lethal malformations of the unborn child, which are now prohibited.  Independent media and NGOs, on the other hand, estimate that there are more than 200,000 abortions performed clandestinely, or by traveling to one of the neighboring countries (Germany, Czech Republic, Northern Europe) where the termination of pregnancy is permitted.  The travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic make such trips very difficult or impossible.

Confirming the hard- line decision, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, former Prime Minister and leader of the conservative Law and Justice party took the opportunity to give his speech a few days ago at a mass in memory of his mother Jadwiga, stating that "Poland is under attack by the Devil, today with the movement against the right to life and LGBT activists, as in 1939 with the Nazis and in the post-war period with communism”.

Ph: Public demonstration in favor of the pro-life movement and against abortion on March 25, 2012 in Warsaw, Poland.Tomasz Bidermann / Shutterstock.com