By: Nicole Mclaren
Sometimes, especially recently, we get caught up in national politics and social issues that we forget to recognize the struggles experienced in other parts of the world. It is important to not only acknowledge the struggles other people face but the wins that they have. Late last year the Polish government tried to restrict (even more so) access to abortion. The law the government proposed would have banned all abortions unless the women’s life was at risk.
Over 100,000 people protested the abortion ban which if passed threatened pregnant women seeking an abortion and doctors with jail time. These protesters had their voice heard. The law was shut down in a vote by Parliament with 352 votes against it and only 58 in favor.
The ban was proposed by a citizen’s initiative, a private organization raised almost half a million signatures to support the ban. The government of Poland is one that is far right and the Catholic church is highly influential. It was clear that they stood on the side of religious conservatives when they moved forward to a vote on the ban but failed to vote on a petition that proposed unrestricted access to abortions in the first trimester.
Women used social media to organize a day of resistance. They planned on wearing only black and asked those who were able to go on strike. With over 100,000 women and others taking the streets to protest the ban the government backed down. This is an illustration of the power of organizing.
Poland still has some of the harshest laws on abortion. Only those who are victims of rape or incest, when the health of the mother or fetus is threatened can a woman get an abortion. There is room for improvement to say the least. With the momentum of the protests late last year there is hope that change can come to these outdated laws.
In the US we have greater access to reproductive healthcare and more options than the women in Poland who essentially must travel to another country to have an abortion. It is important to acknowledge this and work to protect these rights. If you are looking for a way to get involved contact your local Planned Parenthood and start volunteering. There is a place for you in the fight for reproductive rights!