With the collection of over 200,000 signatures by Razem and feminist groups, the Polish parliament discussed and voted on a pro-Choice bill.
On October 22, 2020, Poland’s constitutional court ruled abortions for fetal defects were unconstitutional, introducing a near-total ban on terminations.
The ruling barred women from accessing already highly restricted legal abortions. In 2019, 98 percent of the 1,100 legal abortions carried out in Polish hospitals were done so on the grounds of prenatal abnormalities.
Immediately after the 2020 ruling, Poland’s pro-choice movement mobilized. The women’s rights movement, the All-Poland Women’s Strike – the Ogólnopolski Strajk Kobiet (OSK) – started weeks of demonstrations.
Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets across the country in numbers not seen since the fall of communism.
Word spread on how to access abortion pills or surgical procedures abroad. There were demonstrations, workshops and online discussions with activists; flyers distributed with the slogan “Abortion is OK”; and the contact details of pro-choice organisations reached new people as activists left stickers in public spaces, supermarkets and transport.
As protests erupted across the country – the largest in 30 years – the latest constraint changed the abortion debate. Surveys showed a majority of Poles wanted more reproductive rights.
Unfortunately, on June 23rd, Poland’s parliament rejected a bill that would have liberalized the country’s abortion law – which is one of the strictest in Europe – by allowing terminations on demand up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
This struggle for legal abortion will continue. Polling has consistently found a majority of Poles to be opposed to the near-total abortion ban introduced last year and in favor of either the previous status quo or even further liberalization.