A Sad Day For Women's Rights
By Isabella Corona
Protesters gathered to stand up for women's rights (The Conversation)
Abortion has always been a controversial topic that brings out constant debates amongst both politicians and regular citizens. Some people argue that women shouldn’t be able to get abortions, while others argue that women should be able to choose whether to get one or not. While the U.S currently allows women to have abortions if they want, women in Poland no longer have the option of choosing. Poland has banned abortion completely causing a massive uproar and the largest protest in years.
On October 22, 2020, a law was passed in Poland banning almost all abortions, with exceptions only for cases of rape, incest, or situations where the mother's health is at risk. This angered many Polish women, who were appalled by the fact that their rights were just taken from them. These women, and even men who support their cause, decided that their voices needed to be heard, and decided the best way to do this was to have a peaceful protest. BBC covered the protests, describing the events that occurred during them. Thousands of women went to protest for their rights, the largest amount in recent years. But things went south really fast. “In the early hours of Friday morning, protesters clashed with riot police outside the Warsaw home of Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who heads the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party. Police said officers used pepper spray and physical force when some protesters threw stones and tried to push through the cordon around the house” (BBC News). However, the situation got ugly quickly, as what was meant to be a peaceful protest turned violent very fast.
Protesters gathered near the home of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, with signs reading “This is war” and "You have blood on your hands.” These protests represent not just the anger over the passing of the abortion ban, but also the anger of Polish women who have not been listened to throughout their country’s history. Magda, a 34-year-old protester in the northern city of Gdynia, told TVN: "Women are not respected in this country. No-one is listening to us"(BBC News). If you think this abortion ban was just the start of womens’ voices being silenced, you are wrong. In Poland, women don’t have much say in anything. For many of those protesting, they have begun to see the process that the Polish government is starting: more and more basic human rights slowly being taken away. Manyy outsiders have wondered why the right to abortions being taken away in the first place. The reason for that is that the Polish constitutional court declared legislation allowing for the abortion of malformed foetuses to be "incompatible" with the constitution. Although Poland is one of Europe's most staunchly Roman Catholic countries (the Catholic Church is extremely Pro-Life), opinion polls suggest there is a clear majority against making the abortion law stricter, BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw reports.
Abortion is a debatable topic that many people may be too afraid to share their opinion on. However, regardless of whether you are Pro Choice or Pro Life, being able to choose what you want is something that should be a basic human right. When Poland banned having a choice on whether you can get abortions, it caused chaos. Women and even men were devastated and angry about this new law, and they decided they needed to be heard. On that day, Poland took 10 steps back when it came to basic rights. Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights, said it was a "sad day for women's rights.”