Around 1,500 protesters gathered in Krakow’s Main Square on Sunday afternoon, brandishing signs and coat hangers to express their anger at a proposed law that would ban any and all abortions in Poland.
The law, introduced by the anti-abortion group Fundacja Pro and backed by Prime Minister Beata Szydło along with her ruling Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Law and Justice/PiS) Party, would ban abortions even in the case of a life-threatening pregnancy, a pregnancy as the result of proven rape or incest, or a seriously malformed fetus. Currently, those are the only three exceptions to an otherwise blanket ban on abortion in Poland. Violators of the proposed law would be subject to jail time of three months to five years. The law also would allow for the investigation of an “unintentional” pregnancy termination, with a corresponding jail sentence of up to three years.
Protestor Iwona Duraj, who is pregnant, said she was against the proposition because it takes away a woman’s bodily autonomy. “I don’t want the church and the government deciding if I should give birth or not,” she said.
However, she added, “I think the current law is absolutely fine. But I’m not okay with someone saying that an ill mother should have a child and she has to die after that.”
The protest, which was organized by the group “Dziewuchy dziewuchom,” took the form of a march around the Main Square, followed by an open mic at which protesters voiced their reasons for opposing the proposition. Many of the speakers joined Duraj in supporting the current Polish abortion law, while others opposed bans on abortion completely.
A 2010 poll conducted by the CBOS Public Opinion Research Center shows that only 14% of Polish people support a complete ban on abortion, but PiS lawmakers, who are expected to back the bill, control both the Sejm and the Senate.
Ursula Sędek, a protester holding a hanger and a sign that read “Take Your Hands Off,” expressed skepticism that the protest would have any effect on the results of the proposition. “I’m afraid we don’t have a chance to change the law,” she said. “So we can only protest.”
Scroll through our gallery of photos from the event below: