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Poland’s abortion law ruling protest 18
Photography Wiktor Malinowski

Poland has delayed its abhorrent abortion ban amid mass protests

Hundreds of thousands of pro-choice activists have been demonstrating nationwide since the government announced a near-total ban on abortion two weeks ago

Poland has delayed the implementation of the abhorrent update to its already-strict abortion law, which would amount to a near-total ban. The government made the announcement today (November 3) after almost two weeks of nationwide protests against the ruling.

“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,” Michał Dworczyk, the head of the prime minister’s office, said in a statement.

The ruling was set to be formally published yesterday (November 2) – unpublished, it has no legal power.

According to The Guardian, Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, has appealed for talks with both protesters and opposition lawmakers in an attempt to find a solution. The president, Andrzej Duda – who’s aligned with the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), and whose recent election campaign was laced with homophobic and anti-abortion rhetoric – has proposed a new law that would allow the abortion of foetuses with life-threatening defects, but ban them for disorders such as Down’s syndrome. This is still deemed by most as too restrictive.

On October 22, a high court ruled that aborting foetuses due to defects was unconstitutional, meaning abortions would only be allowed in instances of rape, incest, or if there is a threat to the mother’s life. A near-total ban would force more women to seek procedures illegally or abroad.

The ruling triggered mass protests and a women’s strike across Poland, with hundreds of thousands of activists taking to the streets daily since the announcement, blockading streets and disrupting government meetings and church services.

“I want to live in a country where abortion will not be a political topic,” protester Marta Plewicka told Dazed last week, “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 fuck out, I’m staying and fighting for my sisters’ rights.”

Activist Karolina Micuła, who runs the Instagram account of the feminist social movement OSK, said demonstrators “tried ‘new’, ‘creative’ ways to protest in the times of coronavirus, but now we are putting it straight – FUCK OFF”.

Many Polish politicians have also expressed their outrage at the ruling. In parliament following the announcement, centrist and left-wing MPs held up signs that read, ‘Shame’, and shouted pro-choice slogans at the prime minister.

The news that the abortion ban’s publication has been delayed has been welcomed by those on social media. “This is the power of women,” wrote American actor Aisha Tyler. Publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove said: “Power to women who raise they voice for the rights of others. We must resist where the state fails. Our bodies, our choice.” One Twitter user remarked: “This is what happens when WE RISE.”

Read Dazed’s full interview with the protesters fighting back against Poland’s abortion ruling here.