Living Abroad

Poland’s Czarny Protest

Photo from Fakt24.pl

Today, October 3rd, was a nationally organized “strike”, with women organizing around the hashtag #czarnyprotest, expressing their discontent with the far-right ruling party’s new draconian anti-abortion bill.

Abortion was already almost illegal in Poland, except for cases of the mother or fetus’ health and rape. But the new law would ban ALL abortions, even in those dire circumstances, and impose a penalty of five years in prison for having or performing an abortion. And yes, it’s one of those laws where even women who have a miscarriage can be charged with infanticide.

Not only does the proposed law want to ban all abortions, but it bans all in-vitro fertilization treatments or other scientifically-aided ways of having children. The way the PiS party sees it, if you’re infertile, that’s god’s will and you just have to deal with it.

Photo from Wyborcza Wrocław

Maybe you can tell, maybe you can’t, but I am extremely pro-choice. The chipping away of women’s sexual and reproductive rights in the States gnaws at my conscience, making me angry and nervous for all the women who are in precarious situations where having a baby ranges from simply unwise to absolutely untenable. I understand that Poland is a heavily Catholic country, and that abortion maybe enjoys even less support here than in the US, but this law is seen as extreme, even by many Poles.

Today, women across the country organized a strike: many didn’t go to work, or wore all black to join the movement. Some businesses closed in solidarity. All of my co-workers came to work dressed in all black. In Wrocław alone, there were an estimated 20,000 women marching on the streets towards Rynek, myself included.

Photo from Wyborcza Wrocław

Seeing the support for women’s rights filled my heart and kept me warm as I marched through the rainy streets with my stuffy nose, aching muscles, and cold sweats. (I’m currently sick, thanks to the germ petri dishes I call students.) Even if this is a conservative, religious country, women still deserve to have their choices be in their own hands, not in the hands of male politicians who have drummed up support for their party by whipping people into a xenophobic, anti-refugee frenzy.

You can argue that Poland is too religious, too conservative, but today Polish women (and men) showed that there are many who support bodily autonomy, who support choice! #czarnyprotest #mojeciałomojasprawa

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5 thoughts on “Poland’s Czarny Protest

  1. Abortion should be a difficult choice, but choice IS the operative word and there are more common sense approaches. It should be mandatory to provide counseling, at least to discuss available alternatives, but criminalizing abortion is dangerous and inhuman. Safe facilities must be available to women who choose them. I’m on the fence on fertility treatments. Some of them seem extreme and there are many homeless children available for adoption.

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    1. Choice is the operative word. One of the base arguments for abortion is bodily autonomy, that no one can use your body without your permission. This even applies after you’ve died! It’s why you can take someone’s organs unless they consented to being an organ donor. A doctor can’t take someone’s lung after they’re dead because they’ve given no permission, even though it will save someone else’s life. Therefore a woman should not have to let someone else (a baby) use her body if she doesn’t want to. The choice each woman might make in this situation is up to her.
      The fertility treatments they want to ban are in no way experimental or controversial; it’s stuff like IVF which has been around for a long time. They don’t like it because they believe it goes against god’s will, because apparently they get to decide that for every person in Poland :/

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  2. The abortion choice in my opinion should be 100% to the woman. Setting aside religion, the fertility issue is more complicated, even when discussing well established practices like IVF. I the specialists in this field often don’t adequately educate the woman or couple on the risks. The woman is injected with expensive high doses of fertility drugs which greatly increase the risk of cancer later in life. Let’s say that risk is acceptable to the woman and her mate. I can’t argue that point. The next step is to fertilize and implant. Because of the cost and unknown success rate, the procedure often calls for multiple embryo implantations, bringing us to the flip side of the dilemma, what to do if all of the implants are successful? One option is selective abortion, but we have seen woman insisting on carrying all of the babies to term, 4-5-6-7-8, now you are no longer talking about personal choice but selfishness as you are risking the long-term health and quality of life of these children and placing a huge burden on society and medical resources. That’s why I said I’m on the fence, because we need to look at this in a more responsible way, maybe limiting the number of implants.

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    1. Yeah, but they are not thinking about any of that when they’re outlawing it. It’s just a matter of bringing their rather outdated religious beliefs into the fold. But, since the protest on Monday, the ruling party has backed down from the abortion bill!

      Liked by 1 person

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