Poland Is living historical protests after the ban almost total from abort in the country. The protesters, who were 100,000 this Friday in Warsaw after seven consecutive days of protests, call for the resignation of the government. The constitutional Court Polish last week invalidated the article that allowed women to abort in case of fetal malformation, which will lead to an increase in abortions clandestine. The popular pressure has made the government willing to smooth the guidelines of the Constitutional ruling and allows abortion in the event that the fetus not viable.
The streets of the capital, Warsaw, and other cities such as Gdansk, Krakow, Gdnya, Poznan and Wroclaw have been the scene of massive protests for more than a week. Marta Paczkowska, coordinator of the office of the Federation for Women and Family Planning from Poland, explains that these demonstrations “have no precedent.” “We have not seen protests so important from the drop of the communism”, he explains to El Periódico.
The movement has expanded and is composed not only of women but also by mens who have decided to go out on the street. Marta explains that “the limit has been exceeded, people are so angry that even people who have never demonstrated in favor of abortion before have woken up. “The demonstrations go beyond the question of voluntary termination of pregnancy (IVE). A large part of society is tired of the far-right party Law and Justice (PiS), which leads a coalition in Poland with an absolute majority. “People are not only demonstrating against abortion restrictions but against the government and the ultra-conservative party that has been in power since 2015,” describes Marta.
A political strategy
The constitutional Court from Poland, at the request of several PiS parliamentarians, has restricted access to abortion in cases of fetal malformation, which represents the 97% annual abortions, arguing that this type of abortion is a form of eugenics that goes against the human dignity. According to Marta, the party led by the controversial Jaroslaw Kaczynski he uses the excuse of eugenics risk to gain the support of the most conservative fraction of society in his political struggle.
Since the decision was made by the Constitutional Court, “it is practically immutable” Marta deplores. The protests have not been in vain and protesters have achieved a small victory thanks to pressure on the street: a new bill authorize abortion in case of very serious malformation of the fetus.
Poland already occupied the second position on the list of European countries with tougher regulations on abortion, behind Malta, that prohibits it without exceptions. Polish law allowed abortion in only three exceptions: rape of the woman or incest, high risk to the woman’s health, and malformation of the fetus. The country of 38 million inhabitants officially carries out 1,110 abortions each year, a low figure compared to other European countries.
A danger to women
Illegal abortion or abortion in neighboring countries is a common outlet for Polish women and accounts for around 120,000 voluntary termination of pregnancy per year. These practices dangerous will increase even more. Social worker Marta Paczkowska is particularly concerned for women without economic resources. “Women have to travel to another European country to have an abortion or buy pills on the internet, but how will women who don’t have money do it?” Laments Marta.
Although Polish law does not penalize women for having an abortion, all persons who help a woman to have an abortion carried out illegally are exposed to up to 3 years in prison. With the controversial court ruling, women will have to carry out their pregnancy even if the fetus has severe malformations, which represents a tough psychological test for women.
Difficult access to contraception
In the country, religious education rules and this is a barrier to sexual education. The Polish social worker explains that since 2015, access to contraception Yet the sex education he has diminished because of the “brainwashing” of the Church. At the same time that Poland makes access to abortion difficult, it is also the country in Europe that more restricts access to contraception.
Performing an abortion, even when it is legal, is a stony road for women. Only 1,000 hospitals can perform abortions in the whole of Poland. It is also common for doctors to refuse to terminate the pregnancy for consciousness clause, making the process even more difficult.
Polish society is still very catholic since 92% of Poles consider themselves followers of this religion, according to the Institute of Statistics of the Church of Poland in 2017. However, Marta Paczkowska explains that 69% of Polish society is in favor of that ” women can to choose“. Although lhe mentality of the most traditional part of society collides with the youth, ultraconservatives represent a minority, which explains that the response movement is so massive. “We have to show them that we do not give up, that we are going to keep fighting for our rightsIt’s the only thing we can do, “concludes the social worker.