Mass protests of over a million people nightly have occurred in Poland over the last number of weeks. In the midst of a pandemic this movement has emerged to defend women’s reproductive rights and bodily autonomy after Poland’s far right and fundamentalist religious government utilised the pandemic and restrictions to, essentially overnight, take back the already too narrow abortion rights that women had previously won through mass action.
This would result in an almost total ban on abortions in Poland apart from in extremely specific circumstances which threaten the life of a woman. This neglects the vast majority of women and of cases, and forces women, particularly poor women who cannot travel, into extremely dangerous and often life threatening circumstances against their will, including those seeking abortion due to fatal foetal abnormalities.
The protests are led by the All-Polish Women’s Strike, who have highlighted that they are striking and protesting for more than just the rights that were taken away to be reinstated. The protests highlight the need for wider action on women’s and LGBTQ rights in Poland. For instance, the need for abortion rights in more than the extremely narrow circumstances the government originally bent on before this step backward. As well as a separation of church and state and state funded hospitals and healthcare, and the independence of the hospitals, schools, and judicial system from the Catholic Church.
As of Tuesday Nov 3rd, this mass movement has delayed the Polish government was delayed in being able to publish the court’s decision in its official journal. The protests continue despite this, and despite protesters being attacked and facing violence from far Right counter protesters and religious fanatics. This movement is not just about abortion rights. It is a mass movement against decades of Right wing government which has now developed into an explicitly far Right administration. Workers everywhere stand in solidarity with the millions who refuse to live any longer under Poland’s far Right government.