Poland’s Near-Total Ban On Abortion Sparks Women’s Strike
A women’s strike has launched in Poland, following a court’s near-total ban on abortion.
Many employers in the eastern European country are believed to have agreed to let female employees take the day off, in solidarity with the strike.
While it’s difficult to know just many women were involved in the strike, many gathered in the capital Warsaw today, October 28, chanting: ‘This is war!’
The crowds of mostly young women and some men can be seen holding signs which read slogans such as ‘nothing can stop an angry woman,’ and ‘get your hands off my daughter!’
It comes as protesters up and down the country march for the seventh day in a row, after Poland’s Constitutional Court ruled that abortion should be legal in cases of rape, incest or to protect the mother’s life – but not in cases of foetal defects.
Despite the Roman Catholic Church still having a big influence in Poland, an opinion poll by local paper Gazeta Wyborcza found that 59% of people disagree with the change, BBC News reports.
The ruling came on Thursday, October 21, following a legal challenge against a 1993 law permitting abortion in cases of severe foetal disabilities, which make up 98% of terminations carried out in Poland.
Currently there are around just 1,000 abortions taking place in Poland each year, however women’s rights groups have said there’s likely to be around 80,000 to 120,000 terminations taking place either illegally or in other countries to avoid the restrictions.
Despite the unrest which is evident all over the country, deputy prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has described the protests as an attempt to ‘destroy’ Poland, while urging locals to ‘defend’ the Catholic Church.
Meanwhile, the country’s foreign minister Pawel Jablonski says the ruling is in place to protect unborn babies foetuses from being ‘discriminated’ against because of health defects.
‘It’s a cruel thing to do, to kill unborn children on the basis of the fact that they may carry a Down’s syndrome… Should we discriminate against people with Down’s syndrome? These people have the exact same right as every other human being,’ he told BBC News.
A female protester in Warsaw said the government ‘forcing us to give birth to sick, deformed foetuses, causing such suffering to mothers and children’ is ‘barbarism taking Poland back to the middle ages.’
The protests show no sign of slowing down any time soon.
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