Thousands of women in Poland have on Monday, October 3, embarked on strike in protest against proposals for a total ban on abortions.
Clad in black clothes and waving black flags, the women have boycotted their jobs in anger and are demonstrating across Poland over proposal that would criminalise all terminations in country
Many men also joined the women in demonstrations on the streets of Warsaw, Gdańsk and elsewhere across the largely Catholic nation, in a pro-choice march on what they are calling “Black Monday”.
It is unclear how many women are taking part in the action and how widespread it will be beyond big cities but UK’s online Newspaper, Independent puts the figure at ‘nearly six million’.
“A lot of women and girls in this country have felt that they don’t have any power, that they are not equal, that they don’t have the right to an opinion,” Magda Staroszczyk, a strike co-ordinator, told The Guardian. “This is a chance for us to be seen, and to be heard.”
One protester said: “We are saying ‘enough is enough’ over what is happening, to what the government, the Church and the so-called pro-life organisations are planning for women.
“They want to introduce an anti-abortion law which will mean in many cases, women will be sentenced to death. It will take away the sense of security they have, the treatment options available when pregnancy puts their lives or health in danger.”
Terminations are currently permitted in Poland, where 87 per cent of the population identify as Catholic, only when the life of the foetus is under threat, when there is a grave threat to the health of the mother, or when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.
If the proposed ban were enacted, all terminations would be criminalised and women who, had abortions could be sent to prison for up to five years.
While doctors found to have assisted with a termination would also be liable for prosecution and a prison term.
Abortion is already mostly banned in Poland.
BBC listed the current exceptions as:
- where the woman’s life is in danger
- where there is a risk of serious and irreversible damage to the foetus
- where the pregnancy is as a result of rape or incest – this must be confirmed by a prosecutor
Critics say that even a woman who suffers a miscarriage could be under criminal suspicion, and that doctors might be put off conducting routine procedures on pregnant women for fear of being accused of facilitating a termination.
The only European countries with stricter laws than Poland has at present are:
- San Marino
- Northern Ireland (a part of the UK whose abortion law differs from England, Scotland and Wales)