Simply as voters in America had been participating in a historic presidential election, the ladies of Poland had been taking to the streets. As much as 1,000,000 folks every day have taken half in mass demonstrations towards Poland’s near-total ban on abortion and the ultra-conservative regime that imposed it.
The ban, permitted by the nation’s constitutional tribunal, outlaws abortions even in instances of great fetal abnormalities. The response has been the most important mass protests because the Solidarity motion introduced down the communist authorities within the Eighties.
Led by a grassroots group referred to as Ogólnopolski Strajk Kobiet (All-Polish Girls’s Strike), the demonstrators have additionally taken intention towards the federal government’s authoritarian and anti-democratic insurance policies extra broadly. Poland’s ruling Regulation and Justice occasion is conservative, patriarchal and intently tied to the Catholic church. It received a razor-thin victory in July on a platform rife with anti-LGBT and anti-Semitic sentiment and continues to pursue a technique meant to inspire its conservative base.
If any of this sounds acquainted, it ought to. President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump was an infinite aid, however having a supporter of abortion rights within the White Home mustn’t make us complacent. With conservatives holding a majority on the Supreme Court docket and in state legislative chambers nationwide, People ought to be able to agitate, manage and protest like our rights depend upon it.
First, the struggle for reproductive rights is inextricable from the worldwide effort to advance human rights. What’s occurring in Poland is a reminder that when authoritarian regimes undermine democratic values, assaults on reproductive rights typically observe. It’s no accident that the international locations that joined the Trump administration in repudiating the precise to abortion on the United Nations had been largely repressive governments with information of violating human rights. Freedom can’t exist with out reproductive freedom.
That’s the reason abortion rights should be located inside a broader framework of human dignity, particular person autonomy and civil rights. Polish demonstrators’ calls for lengthen effectively past reproductive rights – to LGBTQ rights, ladies’s rights, higher entry to well being care and extra separation between church and state. Abortion entry is key not solely to ladies’s means to take part equally in society, but in addition to all folks’s proper to be themselves.
Second, mass demonstrations work – particularly when they’re organized from the bottom up. In response to the All-Polish Girls’s Strike, Poland’s ruling occasion has paused implementation of the ban and is asking for talks. Adam Mrozowicki, a sociologist on the College of Wrocław, described the protests to the Guardian as “decentralized, domestically based mostly, grassroots. And personally, in 20 years, I’ve by no means seen something like these numbers.” Harvard College’s Erica Chenoweth has discovered that catalyzing significant political change takes round 3.5% of the inhabitants actively taking part in protests, or about 11 million folks within the U.S. This isn’t an insurmountable purpose. Polling suggests that about 15 million to 26 million folks in the USA participated in Black Lives Matter demonstrations over the dying of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others.
Lastly, the Polish demonstrators belie the notion that the left ought to soften its stance on abortion or keep away from speaking concerning the difficulty of abortion altogether. The Polish demonstrators’ symbols and language are uncooked, unapologetic and confrontational. The first image of the protest is a pink lightning bolt, created by designer Ola Jasionowska, who says that it symbolizes “be careful, beware, we cannot settle for that ladies are being disadvantaged of their primary rights.” Among the many protesters’ most widespread slogans has been “Wypierdalać”, a vulgarity that interprets roughly as “Fuck off.”
As right-wing politicians right here within the U.S. strengthen their maintain on the Supreme Court docket and state capitals across the nation, it’s clear they’ve each intention of utilizing that energy to dictate ladies’s private medical selections and criminalize abortion care. It could behoove us to keep in mind that this isn’t just a few summary coverage making train, however moderately, these insurance policies dramatically have an effect on the lives of actual folks attempting to entry reproductive well being care.
Poland’s mass demonstrations remind us of the facility of protest, even in essentially the most hostile political surroundings.
Do not put away your pink pussy hat but. Winter is coming.