Protests in Poland

Published on 2 November 2020 at 19:00

Polish protests: simplified

Here at frontier the plan is to give people a simplified understanding of what is happening over in Poland where protests are dominating life in Poland after their government are set to introduce further restrictions on abortion which see Poland become the sole member state of the European Union that does not grant woman access to abortion on demand, which was previously the case when Ireland had abortion restrictions.

How big of a deal are these protests?

Thousands march in opposition to ruling that could lead to near total ban on abortions as the thousands of protesters turned out in towns and cities across Poland on Monday as a political crisis sparked.

How do protesters make their voices heard?

Tens of thousands of people in Poland have blocked city streets in cars, on bicycles and on foot on the fifth day of protests against a Constitutional Court ruling that amounts to a near-total ban on abortion in the country. Carrying banners reading "Enough", "I won't be your martyr" and "I want choice, not terror", protesters gathered in several dozen towns and cities in defiance of coronavirus.  

Who is responsible for the abortion restrictions?

Thousands of people have blocked roads across Poland on the fifth consecutive day of protests against a court's ruling on abortion restrictions.

Has the abortion restrictions being implemented before?

The ruling party has tried and failed in the Parliament to restrict abortion. Now the courts it controls have done it, instead, sparking the biggest protests since the government came to power as they attempt to implement the Polish equivalent of the eighth amendment. A protest against a decision by the Constitutional Tribunal on abortion law restriction, in the Polish capital on Monday looked to have had the most attendees. Tens of thousands of Poles have defied Covid-19 restrictions to protest against a new high court ruling that imposes a near-total ban on abortion, blocking major roads and bridges and chanting anti-government slogans. The demonstrators, some dressed as characters from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” have even disrupted masses and vandalized churches which is a rare case of lashing out at the government’s ally, the Catholic Church, in the staunchly Catholic country. The protests began Thursday over the ruling that tightened what was already one of Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws as the Polish courts hope to mirror the eight amendment.

Who are behind the protests?

Women’s rights activists and many thousands of supporters held a fifth day of protests across Poland on Monday, defying pandemic restrictions to express their fury at a top court decision that tightens the predominantly Catholic nation’s already strict abortion law. In Warsaw, mostly young demonstrators — women and men — with drums, horns and firecrackers blocked rush-hour traffic.  

Has the EU commented on it?

The EU has been told by Polish Neo Liberals to defend itself against the attack on “women’s rights”.

Is there financial aid that can help destroyed businesses?

The European Commission has disbursed a total of €17 billion to Italy, Spain and Poland in the first instalment of financial support to Member States under the SURE instrument. As part of operations, Italy has received €10 billion, Spain €6 billion, and Poland €1 billion. Once all SURE disbursements have been completed, Italy will receive a total of €27.4 billion, Spain €21.3 billion and Poland €11.20 billion.

Where is the leadership?

Poland's President Andrzej Duda has tested positive for coronavirus, an aide has said, as the country faces a record rise in cases. "Ladies and Gentlemen, as recommended President @AndrzejDuda was tested yesterday for the presence of coronavirus. The result turned out to be positive. The president is fine," Blazej Spychalski, secretary of state in the president's office, said on Twitter while he self isolates as protests happen. While it was unclear when Mr Duda was infected, he had attended an investment forum in Tallin where he met with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev who later went into quarantine. Poland went into a "red zone" lockdown, including the partial closure of primary schools and restaurants. The move came as the country of 38 million people saw a new 24-hour record of 13,632 coronavirus cases on Friday as Poland sees a much stronger second wave infect the nation.

What law will be revoked?

Enormous protests are taking place across Poland in response to a new ruling striking down part of the 1993 abortion law – something that effectively amounts to a legal ban in a country that already took a very restrictive approach to abortion. Abortion was previously allowed on three grounds.

Are both sides clashing?

Demonstrators took to the churches across the country and disrupted services. “Poland is an example for Europe and the world”, chanted the hundreds of pro-life activists gathered outside the Constitutional Court in Warsaw. Their outburst of enthusiasm came after the court had ruled to almost completely ban abortions which have led to clashes with pro-abortion activists. Streets in large cities and small towns across Poland are blocked by not hundreds, but tens of thousands which shows how dangerous it can get.

How will abortion law change in Poland?

Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal has ruled that an existing law allowing abortion of malformed foetuses is unconstitutional, provoking an outcry from women and pro-choice activists. Over the last four days, thousands of women have stormed the streets of Poland, protesting a recent court ruling.  

How did protests grow so rapidly?

Thousands of women are protesting against Poland's new abortion laws in cities across the country which is also moving into smaller towns and villages.

What has the international reaction been like?

The signatories of the Geneva Consensus Declaration pledge to work together to "reaffirm that there is no international right to abortion." The United States on Thursday signed an anti-abortion declaration along with more than 30 countries representing over 1.6 billion people as they are the front runners in a global prolife movement. Women in Poland took to the streets to protest a clampdown on abortion rights in that country. American secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar took part in a virtual signing ceremony of the Geneva Consensus Declaration. Egypt, Uganda, Brazil, Hungary and Indonesia co-sponsored the pact.

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