The Polish government delayed implementing a court ruling which would nearly outright ban abortion services following two weeks of nationwide protests against changes to the law.
On Tuesday, November 3, the Polish government announced they were delaying updates to the countries already restrictive abortion law. In a statement, the head of the prime minister’s office Michał Dworczyk said, “There is a discussion going on, and it would be good to take some time for dialogue and for finding a new position in this solution that’s difficult and stirs high emotions.”
In October, Poland’s constitutional tribunal previously decided to further restrict the country’s abortion laws, ruling that termination should be illegal even in cases where a foetus has been diagnosed with serious or irreversible birth defects. However, the decision has still not been published despite a Monday, November 2, deadline and currently holds no legal power.
The tribunal’s decision has sparked national and global outrage with large scale protests voicing their anger to the Law and Justice (PiS) party. Speaking with Dazed, protester Marta Plewick said, “I want to live in a country where abortion will not be a political topic. It will not be something up for discussion at all, but my private matter. But I’m not moving out. The government can get the f*ck out, I’m staying and fighting for my sisters’ rights.”
— Bart Staszewski ᴸᴳᴮᵀ 🏳️🌈🇵🇱 (@BartStaszewski) October 30, 2020
Last Friday evening, an estimated 100,000 people gathered in the streets of Warsaw shouting pro-choice and anti-PiS slogans during the largest demonstration since PiS assumed office in 2015. Over the span of two weeks, protesters have come out in force to stand against the tribunal’s decision and this infringement upon human rights.
On Twitter, one person shared, “In Poland, millions of women across the country are striking after the government banned abortion. Refusing to go to work, drive, cook at home, or do anything until the ban is dropped. Poland’s President today indicated they may have to change or reverse the law.”
In Poland, millions of women across the country are striking after the government banned abortion. Refusing to go to work, drive, cook at home, or do anything until the ban is dropped. Poland's President today indicated they may have to change or reverse the law. ✊🏼 pic.twitter.com/IrVF5ziFDF
— Liquid Faerie 🇵🇹🇪🇺🦄🕷🦄🇪🇺🇵🇹 (@LiquidFaerie) November 2, 2020
As a sign of solidarity with the pro-choice protesters, people in Waterford held a demonstration on Sunday, November 1. A 20-year-old Polish woman living in Waterford stated at the gathering, “I’m supporting the strike because I want to support women living in Poland. We all have families there. We want for every human to have equal rights and that includes women.”
Co-organiser of the Waterford solidarity protest Ania Wojewodka shared, “We have organised this protest, first and foremost in response to the plea of Polish women, who have stood up to the government, who do not respect human rights, whose ideology is not in accord with the times we live in, who is steeped in corruption and doesn’t agree that women are able to decide for themselves and tries to take the right to decide from them.”
— Abortion Rights IE (@freesafelegal) October 25, 2020
“A government to whom the LGBTQIA+ community are not people but just an ideology. It is unacceptable and we must let the people living in Poland – our friends and family – that we stand with them here in Ireland,” Wojewodka concluded.
Waterford based community groups joined to show their support for the demonstration. These included Waterford for Change, Pro-choice Waterford, Together for Yes, Pride of the Deise, Mna na Deise, and Unite in the Community trade union.
As the political landscape in Poland grows ever more conservative and hostile in nature, communities in Ireland are responding with actions of solidarity. In recent months, Fermoy, Co. Cork, severed ties with its Polish twin town, Nowa Deba, in opposition to Polish areas claiming to be ‘LGBT+ free’ zones.
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