Polish Women on the Warpath
Women in Poland went on strike this October to protest against their government’s planned law which would have totally banned abortion. Hundreds of thousands of women joined the series of strikes, dressed in black, beginning on what they called Black Monday. The existing Polish abortion laws are very restrictive with abortion allowed only where there has been incest or rape, or the life of the pregnant woman or the foetus is under threat. The proposed laws would have removed even those exemptions and have been described as barbaric. Jail sentences of five years would have applied for women choosing abortion and there would also have been jail sentences for doctors involved. (Rick Noack, The Age, 11 October 2016, reprinted from the Washington Post and New York Times). An organiser, Kamila Majer said, ‘We’re fighting for a secular state, the right to contraception and equal pay among men and women among other things’. Fellow organiser Bozena Przyluska said, ‘Right now the Church interferes in politics and the law. It blackmails political parties and meddles in things that shouldn’t concern it’.
The strike succeeded with the embarrassed Polish government withdrawing the proposal. Government Minister Jaroslaw Gowin said that the protests ‘caused us to think and taught us humility’.