1. Thousands upon thousands of women left their jobs, schools, and homes on Monday to flood the streets of Poland.
2. The #blackmonday strike was organized to protest a proposed law that would essentially ban abortion for any reason.
The proposed law would further tighten Poland’s abortion laws, already among the strictest in Europe, by eliminating access to the procedure for rape survivors or in the case of fatal fetal abnormalities. The law would also prohibit medical personnel from performing abortions unless a woman was in “imminent” danger of dying and could effectively criminalize miscarriage.
The proposed bill survived its first parliamentary vote last week and was referred to a parliamentary committee for further input.
“Going to [the proposed] total ban would be something really odious, and something that would make life of women there extremely dangerous,” Irene Donadio, public affairs manager for the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s European Network, told BuzzFeed News by telephone.
3. When we say “thousands of women” — we mean it.
4. As in, seriously a lot of women.
5. In the capital of Warsaw alone, there were 25,000 women declaring their opposition to the bill.
6. They also came out in Krakow…
10. …Lublin… and other Polish cities and towns.
11. “I have no idea who started it,” said Marta Szostak of ASTRA, the Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health. “It was not an NGO. It was not a person who’s been fighting for women’s rights to abortion for many years. What’s happening now is more a civil movement, a grassroots movement — because women are very furious. They’re very scared.”
“It has never happened in my life to see that large amount of women going to the streets fighting for reproductive rights,” said Szostak.
That may be because this is the first initiative to narrow abortion rights that’s found any real success, thanks to parliamentary elections last year that ushered in a right-wing government. “We’ve been facing numerous anti-choice initiatives every two to three years for the past decade,” Szostak said. “But something have been proposing for a long time but only now found good ground for this.”
12. The protests even went international — to Berlin, Germany and Helsinki, Finland.
14. Women marched in London, England
15. and Limerick, Ireland…
16. In Dublin…
17. and even in Aleppo, Syria, people showed their support.
18. For Donadio, the international resonance makes sense. “I think that in Poland it’s extremely terrifying, but it’s not isolated [there]. We see constant attack to women’s rights all over Europe and also all over the world,” she said.
“For me it’s a growing conservative effort to oppress women and to really step on their human rights, to try to undermine their autonomy and their ability to decide for themselves.”
19. Social media was full of love for the protests, but inside Poland, the story looks a bit different. “The national media are trying to make it look like a gathering of hysterical feminists,” Sztoska, of ASTRA, said. “And some Catholic Church officials have called the protest ‘a manifest of the civilization of death.’”
20. The European Parliament (EP) is scheduled to debate the law in a session on Wednesday. Elly Schein, an EP member from Italy, declared her solidarity — but it’s still unclear which side the debate might favor.
Pro-choice activists are hoping the European Parliament will adhere to its own advice. Last year, the parliament chastised Paraguay for its abortion law, with restrictions similar to the Polish proposal. But that adherence isn’t a given.
“We know that it’s easier to be brave about the situation in countries that are really far away, and it’s more difficult to have a bold stand with a member of the same club,” Donadio said. “We do hope that the European Parliament and parliamentarians there will show support and coherence in their stand.”
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