Polish women’s fight against abortion law continues

Thousands of protesters took part in demonstrations in Warsaw and other cities across Poland on Oct31. Protests have been raging across the Catholic country every day since last Thursday, when the Constitutional Tribunal outlawed abortion in cases of fetal congenital defects — the most common reason for the 1,110 legal abortions recorded by the Polish Health Ministry last year. 

Demonstrators gathered in front of the headquarters of the government, the ruling party and at one of the city’s main squares. At the same time, groups of football hooligans fired flares at the crowd in Warsaw. Police said they confiscated flares, gas containers and batons.

Marta Lempart, co-founder of Women’s Strike, a non-governmental organization (NGO) and a main demonstration organizer, said: “We’re prepared to fight till the end.”

Protesters ignored pandemic restrictions that ban public gatherings of more than five people and disregarded government calls to stay home due to skyrocketing coronavirus infections. The nation of 38 million has hit new records for confirmed cases almost daily this week, including the 21,600 confirmed cases reported Friday.

Klementyna Suchanow, one of the key organizers with the Poland’s Women’s Strike initiative, said she and many others refused to be discouraged by either the virus or the authorities because they believe they are fighting for a fundamental right.

“This is about the freedom and dignity of people,” Suchanow said. “The will of people to protest should be a lesson for anyone who wants to impose authoritarian ways.”