Massive protests erupted in Poland on Monday, as women in cities across the country donned black in protest of a proposal to ban abortions in cases where fetuses were severely deformed or unable to survive after birth. The recent demonstrations were a continuation of the “Black Monday” protests that helped defeat a proposed near-total ban of abortion that would have allowed women who underwent abortions — and the doctors who performed them — to be jailed for up to five years.
Jaroslaw Kaczyński, champion of the new proposal and head of the ruling Law and Justice party, said earlier this month that he and his party wanted to ensure that even fetuses “certain to die, very deformed, still end up in a birth, so that the child can be baptized.”
On Monday, protesters condemned the government’s latest attempt at restricting abortion, called for better sex education and birth control, and criticized the Roman Catholic Church for undue “interference” in the country’s politics and public education. Dorota Szumilak, a 44-year-old financial analyst, said that as a Lutheran she felt discriminated against in a country where the Catholic Church organizes religion classes in schools.
“We want to live in a secular society,” said Agata Rybka, a 24-year-old biotechnology student who helped oversee a petition signing in central Warsaw. “Right now religious issues dominate public discourse and we don’t like it.”
Under Poland’s current abortion law, termination of a pregnancy is only permissible in cases of rape, irreparable damage to a fetus, or when a woman’s life is at risk.