We want doctors, not missionaries !
More than 30,000 Polish women, many dressed in black, chanted “We want doctors, not missionaries!” and carried placards bearing messages like “My Uterus, My Opinion”, and “Women Just Want to Have FUN-damental Rights” at Warsaw’s Castle square on Monday. They were taking part in a massive nation wide strike against the newly proposed abortion ban in this largely Catholic country.
Tens of thousands of people boycotted work and classes on Monday to protest against the proposals, which if enacted would impose a blanket ban on abortion, including in instances of pregnancy as a result of rape or incest.
Without half their workforce, government offices, universities and schools in 60 cities across the country closed their doors.
“The protest was bigger than anyone expected – people were astonished,” said Agnieszka Graff, a commentator and activist. “Warsaw was swarming with women in black. It was amazing to feel the energy and the anger, the emotional intensity was incredible.”
The massive protest had its desired effect. It jolted the conservative Polish ruling party to action. Now it seems there won’t be a new abortion law.
Senior politicians from Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) have distanced themselves from a controversial proposal to ban abortion, in the wake of a wave of mass protests across Poland that appears to have caught the government off guard.
Jarosław Gowin, the minister of science and higher education, said on Wednesday that the protests had “caused us to think and taught us humility”.
Both the prime minister, Beata Szydło, and PiS leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, had signalled support for the Stop Abortion proposals, but the government appears to have reconsidered its position following the protests.
Ahead of Gowin saying the protests had led to a rethink, Szydło said on Tuesday that the government “has not worked and is not working on any law amending the current legislation on abortion”. She also implied she had admonished the foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski, for widely derided remarks on Monday, in which he had said of the protesters “Let them have their fun”, and stated that by “dressing up, screaming silly slogans and vulgarities”, the protesters were “making a mockery of very important issues”.
The senate speaker, Stanisław Karczewski, said on Wednesday that Poland’s upper house of parliament would not initiate work on a bill to further restrict Poland’s abortion law.
Women in Poland have shown the world that nothing is impossible for a united women’s movement in a battle for rights and justice.