Thousands of women across Poland have gone on strike to protest against proposals for a total ban on abortion. They marched through the streets of Warsaw and other Polish cities wearing black as a sign of mourning for their reproductive rights. Women opposed to the ban stayed away from work and school and refused to do domestic chores, in a protest inspired by a women’s strike in Iceland in 1975.
If the law – which has cleared one parliamentary hurdle so far – goes through, it will make Poland’s abortion laws as restrictive as those in two other European countries: Malta and the Vatican. Women found to have had abortions would face a five-year prison term. Doctors found to have assisted in an abortion would also be liable for jail time.
Abortion is already banned for the most part in Poland. “If I perform a Caesarean section and the child dies, I may go to prison for three years, because the child was premature,” said Prof. Romuald Debski, who works at a hospital in Warsaw. While pro-choice activists marched in black, anti-abortion activists chose white for the color of their counter-protests.