Church vs state: women protest to protect their rights

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On 22 October the High Court in Poland passed on a law in which abortions performed on the ground of foetal defects are unconstitutional. The only way Polish women can fight against patriarchal rule is to stand against it directly. For almost a week now, thousands of women are marching the streets of Warsaw trying to make their voices heard. The influence of the Church violates the rights of women. 

A Catholic country 

Poland is one the most Catholic countries in the European Union and therefore sticks to its traditional values. An ‘anti-abortion’ law was in effect since 1993. The only allowed grounds for this procedure were accepted when the pregnancy threatens the life or health of the mother, the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, and the foetus has a severe anomaly. With the new regulation, women must give birth to children with birth defects. The country’s right-wing government has been trying for almost a year to introduce the ban of abortion. The ruling party (PiS) had a previous attempt to pass the bill in at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. It is clear that the Church does not understand how important it is for women to exercise their rights.

The new decision is clearly violating the human rights. Moreover, this produces a more dangerous environment for women who want to terminate a pregnancy. A recent statistic, done by the women’s right group showed the hard truth. Last year, between 80.000 and 120.000 Polish women have done the procedure outside the country. In legal terms, only 1.000 pregnancy terminations occured in Poland in 2019.

This law is trying to solve the effect, not the cause of the problem: unwanted pregnancies. The lack of sexual education, contraception and the ineffective procedures for adoption are some of the causes that might encourage pregnancy terminations.

A week of protests

The Church must understand that women would do anything to protect their rights. The only way women can express their anger and helplessness is by organizing protests. Phrases like ‘‘Women’s hell’’ and “Nothing can stop an angry woman!” are shouted in the Poland’s capital. Justyna Kowalczyk-Tekieli, sportswoman and two-time Olympic medal winner said: “Polish women are diminished to the role of incubators. I do not know how one could condemn a woman to give birth to a dead foetus.”

This is not the first time when Poland is ruled by the Church. Back in July, Andrzej Duda won the presidential election and the world was in shock. He is now infamous for his homophobic stands, stating that the ‘‘LGBT ideology is worse than communism’’. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the story is different.  His adversary Rafał Trzaskowski, mayor of Warsaw, signed a declaration that aimed to fight against discrimination of the LGBT community. The dichotomy of reactions and ideologies highlights the schism. The country is now divided and people are asking for separation of church and state.

There were previous attempts that restricted women rights. In 2016 the Government tried to ban abortions of any kind. People showed resistance in a so-called protest named ‘‘Black Monday’’. And in order to show support for that event, thousands chose to adorn black clothing.

 

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