Thousands of pro-choice Polish women went on strike Monday in response to a proposed abortion ban that would make the procedure illegal even in the case of rape or life of the mother, apparently to little effect.
“This is a barbarian proposal that will move Poland back to medieval times,” a liberal activist told The New York Times, referring to the proposed ban on a woman’s “right” to kill her unborn child.
“A complete and total abortion ban? This is beyond my wildest nightmares,” added a mother of two. “Women don’t have abortions because they are promiscuous and it’s convenient. They do it because they need to, and it’s often the most traumatic decision ever.”
But despite a strong public show of support for the strike, BBC News reports it did little to interfere with Poland’s economy. Counter protesters who support the ban showed up wearing white.
“If we agree that a mother can even kill her own child, how can we tell other people that they shouldn’t kill each other?” one woman wrote in support of the ban.
Poland already has some of the strongest restrictions on abortion in the world — women can legally end their unborn child’s life only if it threatens the mother’s health, is the product of rape or abuse, or has a severe abnormality. But women and doctors who participate in abortions for any reason could face up to five years in prison under the new law.
Protests over the law culminated in some 24,000 women going on strike Monday, opting to wear black and take to the streets in a show of “mourning” so-called reproductive rights. The strike hearkens back to a women’s strike in Iceland in 1975, when they stayed home from work and refused to do domestic chores.
Some abortionists expressed concern that the law could unintentionally threaten women who have miscarriages with prosecution over appearances they had an abortion, or lead to a mother’s death in some cases because her unborn baby’s life cannot be ended.
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