“This is war”: Polish people went to the streets for the right to abortion

Mass protests against the decision of the Constitutional Court, which toughened the already almost total ban on abortion as much as possible, have been ongoing for a week in Poland. Demonstrators are blocking the streets in major cities, clashing with police and demanding the government’s resignation. Opponents of the new restrictions appear with posters “This is war”, “Fight the virus, not women” and “Blood on your hands. Experts believe that the bans will only increase the number of clandestine abortion operations, putting women’s health and lives at risk.

The decision of the Constitutional Court will come into force after its official publication, but there is little doubt that it will happen sooner or later. As a result, only abortions will remain legal in Poland for women who are victims of rape or get pregnant as a result of incest, as well as termination of pregnancy that threatens the life and health of the woman herself.

The protest leaders are confident that the CC decision is intended to satisfy the request not only from the electoral core of Law and Solidarity, but also from the Church. Thus, the chairman of the Polish Episcopal Conference Stanislav Gadecki reminded that “laws in our country are not written by the church”. “In turn, the church can not refuse to defend life or renounce the position that every person should be protected from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death,” – said the Archbishop.

Esther Major, Senior Advisor to Amnesty International, in turn, notes that “legal prohibitions on abortion do not prevent or reduce the number of abortions; they only harm women’s health by forcing them to undergo clandestine abortions or to travel to other countries to obtain the necessary medical services to which they have rights.

According to the official data of the Polish Ministry of Health, last year about 1.1 thousand abortions were performed in the country: more than 98% of operations were performed in cases where the cause of the operation was the defects detected in the fetus. At the same time, according to estimates of the non-governmental Federation for Women’s Rights and Family Planning, Polish women perform from 100 to 150 thousand abortions per year – either illegally in Poland or abroad.

The authorities’ tough line on abortion is designed to help unite additionally the conservative electorate. However, this medal, of course, has its downside. For example, as the columnist of the Rzeczpospolita newspaper Arthur Barkiewicz notes, the “Law and Justice” party must be prepared for the negative electoral consequences of the current protests. In particular, “some voters, especially young people, will turn their back on the PS as a result”, while “their votes in the prospect of the next parliamentary elections may turn out to be key”.