On October 3, seven million women in Poland went on strike, outraged by a proposal that would completely ban abortion—and punish women who end a pregnancy with up to five years in prison. Lawmakers immediately backed down. As one conservative politician put it, the protest “taught us humility.” Krystyna Kacpura, director of the Federation for Women and Family Planning, a long-time partner of the Center for Reproductive Rights, wrote in an op-ed:
I have never seen such huge protests. Something snapped in Polish women, we are empowered and we won’t stop. The protests were so spontaneous: with barely a few days’ notice thousands of women were walking out of work, and if they couldn’t get the day off, many told me, they said to their bosses they would not return because they could not work alongside people who did not believe in their rights.
It’s an inspiring victory. At the same time, current law still bans abortion except in very limited cases, and lawmakers are already working on new ways to roll back reproductive rights. The Center will keep challenging Poland’s restrictive law. We’ve worked with Polish activists for decades and already won two cases on behalf of Polish women denied abortion care. Next month, we’re asking the United Nations to condemn Poland’s harsh law. Your donation enables us to keep up the fight in Poland—and helps us remove restrictive abortion laws around the world.