Polish Parliament recently tried to propose a bill that would ban abortion in almost all cases, including those of rape and incest. The only exception would be when the life of the mother is threatened. However, when thousands of women skipped work and school Monday to protest the bill, the government reconsidered their decision, according to The Guardian.
The women who protested wore black and held signs with phrases such as “My Body, My Choice” and “Women Just Want To Have FUN-damental Rights.” Some even carried hangers or images of hangers—a symbol of DIY abortions women have performed when they didn’t have access to safe, legal options.
According to the BBC, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo is also turning her back on the bill, even going so far as to claim that it might not even exist.
“I want to state very clearly that the PiS (Law and Justice) government is not working on any legislation changing the rules on abortion in Poland,” Szydlo said at a news conference on Tuesday.
According to Vox, abortion is already mostly illegal in Poland. Currently, abortion is only allowed in Poland in the case of rape, incest, severe fetal abnormalities or risk to the life of the mother, and doctors sometimes refuse to perform legal abortions as well. This new law would have restricted the practice even more, and would have criminalized abortion with five-year prison sentences for women who had them, according to the BBC. Punishing women who have abortions is considered a radical idea in the U.S., even among pro-life activists—Remember the backlash when Donald Trump briefly supported the idea?
Luckily, the government has decided to drop the issue for now. Ewa Kopacz, a former prime minister of Poland, told the Guardian that “the PiS has backtracked because it was scared by all the women who hit the streets in protest.” The deputy prime minister, Jaroslaw Gowin, told the BBC that the protests had given Parliament “food for thought and certainly taught us humility.”
This probably won’t be the end of the issue in Poland, but it shows just how powerful political protests can be. Use your right to organize peacefully!