Thousands took to the streets of Warsaw yesterday for a pro-abortion rights rally. The protest follows news last week that Poland's female prime minister Beata Szydło is backing the country's Catholic Church in a call for tighter abortion laws. Poland's laws on pregnancy termination, as it stands, are similar to that of Ireland; "A 1993 law grants it up to the 25th week from conception, but only on the condition that the woman’s life is in danger, the pregnancy is the result of criminally proven rape or incest, or the foetus is 'seriously malformed'," reports the Guardian. The Church and Government are now proposing a reform that will rule out abortion altogether. This would mean that women in Poland who have been raped are required to give birth to the child, or forced to give birth when it could threaten their health.
These changes have been supported by the Polish Law and Justice (PiS) party, who have been pushing their conservative agenda in the country since they came to power in October 2015, according to the Guardian. The party also plan to end state funding for IVF and bring back the requirement of a prescription for women to obtain emergency contraceptive pills. “The life of every person is protected by the fifth of the Ten Commandments: thou shalt not kill. Therefore the position of Catholics in this regard is clear and unchanging," said Poland's Bishop, in a letter on the subject released last week. The calls have been met with resistance from pro-choice and liberal Poles, as well as women taking to social media to post messages to the Polish prime minister with the hashtag "#trudnyokres" (meaning "difficult period"), detailing their period pains and experiences with reproduction.
"Since the government is so interested in what Polish women do with their bodies, now we're giving them the full story online," Julia Eriksson, a 30-year-old Polish expat told Refinery29, "This form of protest is a very Polish way of dealing with a problem – always with a twist." Among the protestors out to demonstrate on the streets on Sunday were women holding coat hangers to demonstrate the lengths some will have to go to in order to seek illegal abortions, should the new legislation be passed.
"I am convinced that the majority of the Polish population is against this legislation," said Julia. "The average Pole does not think that a woman should give birth even though that might put her life in danger, of course not!" She added: "The proposal comes from the Church and is supported by a government who might be about to commit political suicide. There are currently demonstrations in front of the parliament and Polish embassies abroad, on the internet and in the churches. A resistance of such scale can't simply be ignored."