Poland’s abortion protests—democratic standards at stake

The passion behind the demonstrations signifies a battle for basic democratic standards in a world of creeping authoritarian temptations.

by Maria Skóra
30th October 2020

On October 22nd, the Constitutional Court in Poland made an unprecedented decision, declaring abortion due to foetal defects unconstitutional. Because around 90 per cent of all legal abortions in the country are performed on this criterion, upon entering into force this ruling will in practice drastically limit access to safe termination of pregnancy. It stands in opposition to medical science and to the will of the majority of the population, which—according to the polls—supports the existing abortion regime, already one of the strictest in Europe.

This battle started as early as 2016, with ‘pro-life’ associations lobbying the parliament for an amendment to the law. They failed then but the change has now effectively been introduced by the Constitutional Court. The new status quo is not only controversial on its merits but also because the court’s judicial neutrality, vis-à-vis the governing Law and Justice Party (PiS), has long been questioned.

Continued: https://www.socialeurope.eu/polands-abortion-protests-democratic-standards-at-stake


Pro-choice supporters hold biggest-ever protest against Polish government

About 100,00o people take to the streets of Warsaw to oppose tightened abortion law

Christian Davies in Warsaw
Fri 30 Oct 2020

About one hundred thousand protesters took to the streets of the Polish capital, Warsaw, on Friday, in the largest demonstration of popular anger directed against Poland’s ruling rightwing Law and Justice party (PiS) since it assumed office in 2015.

Protests have been held across the country since Poland’s constitutional tribunal declared earlier this month that abortions in instances where a foetus is diagnosed with a serious and irreversible birth defect were unconstitutional. Such procedures constitute about 96% of legal abortions in Poland, which already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe.

Continued: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/30/pro-choice-supporters-hold-biggest-ever-protest-against-polish-government


Women Converge on Warsaw, Heightening Poland’s Largest Protests in Decades

Outraged by a court decision to ban nearly all abortions, tens of thousands of women took to the streets of Poland’s capital on Friday, culminating a week of big protests across the country.

By Anatol Magdziarz and Marc Santora
Oct. 30, 2020

WARSAW — Ignoring the threat of prosecution and the dangers posed by a surge of coronavirus cases, tens of thousands of women outraged by a court decision to ban nearly all abortions in Poland converged in Warsaw on Friday, intensifying what have been the largest demonstrations in the country since the fall of communism in 1989.

With a musical medley that included Darth Vader’s theme from Star Wars, in a poke at the government, and techno music blaring over loudspeakers, crowds of women flooded the streets of the capital. Many of the women had the red lightning bolt that has become the iconic image of the movement emblazoned on their clothes, as the police and military security officers flanked them as they marched.

Continued: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/30/world/europe/poland-abortion-women-protests.html


Polish president changes stance on abortion rights amid widespread protests

“It cannot be that the law requires this kind of heroism from a woman,” Duda said in an interview.

Oct. 29, 2020
by The Associated Press

WARSAW, Poland — Poland's President Andrzej Duda said Thursday that women themselves should have the right to abortion in case of congenitally damaged fetuses, apparently breaking ranks with a conservative leadership that pushed a ban that has led to mass street protests.

“It cannot be that the law requires this kind of heroism from a woman,” Duda said in an interview with radio RMF FM.

Continued: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/polish-president-changes-stance-abortion-rights-amid-widespread-protests-n1245227


Polish women strike over near-total abortion ban

Opponents of the ruling argue it puts women’s lives at risk by forcing them to carry unviable pregnancies.

28 Oct 2020

Women in Poland walked off the job and hit the streets nationwide on Wednesday, the seventh straight day of mass protests over a court ruling to impose a near-total abortion ban in the country.

Despite tight coronavirus restrictions on public gatherings, Poland has seen huge rallies against the ruling in both more liberal urban areas and traditionally conservative smaller towns.

Continued: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/28/polish-women-strike-over-near-total-abortion-ban


Polish women strike over near-total abortion ban

Opponents of the ruling argue it puts women’s lives at risk by forcing them to carry unviable pregnancies.

28 Oct 2020

Women in Poland walked off the job and hit the streets nationwide on Wednesday, the seventh straight day of mass protests over a court ruling to impose a near-total abortion ban in the country.

Despite tight coronavirus restrictions on public gatherings, Poland has seen huge rallies against the ruling in both more liberal urban areas and traditionally conservative smaller towns.

Continued: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/28/polish-women-strike-over-near-total-abortion-ban


The Guardian view on Poland’s abortion ban: a betrayal of democracy

Mass pro-choice protests across the country have morphed into a rebellion against an authoritarian government and an over-powerful church

Editorial
Wed 28 Oct 2020

When Poland’s high court ruled in favour of a near-total ban on abortion last Thursday, the country’s most powerful politician, Jaroslaw Kaczyński, probably congratulated himself on the successful completion of a cunning plan. Four years ago, his Law and Justice party (PiS) was forced to back down after it proposed legislation to achieve the same goal. Hundreds of thousands of women took to the streets to protest. Parliamentarians were rattled and the bill was dropped.

Poland already has the toughest abortion restrictions of any country in Europe, bar Malta, and polls consistently demonstrate popular opposition to even stricter limits. But with the enthusiastic blessing of the most influential Catholic church in Europe, the government decided to persevere by resorting to judicial chicanery.

Continued: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/28/the-guardian-view-on-polands-abortion-ban-a-betrayal-of-democracy


Poland’s leader wants churches defended, condemns protests

Monika Scislowska, The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, October 27, 2020

WARSAW, POLAND -- Poland's powerful ruling party leader urged his supporters Tuesday to defend the predominantly Catholic nation's churches, potentially setting the stage for clashes with demonstrators angry at a court ruling that severely restricts abortions.

The call Tuesday by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a conservative, drew strong condemnation from the main opposition head who accused him of deepening the nation's divide, inciting hatred and civil war. Poland's archbishop appealed for calm and respect for churches.

Continued: https://www.ctvnews.ca/world/poland-s-leader-wants-churches-defended-condemns-protests-1.5162376


Poland abortion ruling: Protesters disrupt church services

Published Oct 25, 2020

Protesters have disrupted church services across Poland in the latest show of discontent against a court's near-total ban on abortion.

The protesters staged sit-ins and held pro-abortion banners, interrupting Sunday Mass at some churches.

Continued: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54683735


USA – Inside The Fight For Abortion Rights On A Catholic Campus

St. Mary’s College has long had an anti-abortion club, but not an abortion rights one – until now.

By Melissa Jeltsen, HuffPost US
10/25/2020

Two years ago, when Megan King enrolled at Saint Mary’s College, a private Catholic women’s liberal arts school in Indiana, she quickly noticed the college’s official anti-abortion club. It was hard not to.

The student group Belles for Life, which stands against “abortion, infanticide, embryonic stem cell research, and euthanasia,” had posters in the hallways promoting its events, and handed out stickers for students to affix to their laptops. Online, the group recruited volunteers for the annual March for Life rally in Washington, D.C.

Continued:  https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/abortion-pro-choice-club-catholic-college_n_5f930dabc5b63bc74ba64f41?ri18n=true