The demand for legalization of abortion as well as anti-fascist and pro-climate slogans resounded on March 8th in Warsaw, Poland. The street disco event, called #DiscoLegal was organized by Polish Women’s Strike, the coalition of women who ran „black protests” in 2016 against the total ban on abortion – and since then engaged in more than 1000 events, protests and actions for women’s rights and democracy.
You could hear: “Education, because we have the right to know/ Contraception, because we have the right to choose/ Abortion, because our bodies are ours” – chanted by Natalia Pancewicz and Karolina Micuła, two singers and activists from Wrocław who started with a dynamic slogan – “Abortion! Legal! Safe and free!”, “Abortion! Legal! Now, now, now!”, “Clergy does not give birth! Clergy must not rule!”
The #DiscoLegal event was a part of the campaign for legal, safe and free abortion that the Polish Women’s Strike movement started on March 1st. #LegalAbortionNow billboards are visible in 14 cities in Poland. As the activists say –„not only legal abortion, but legal abortion NOW! The narrative “not now, there are more important issues” is over. Every political or media “not now” will be one more billboard!”
In the fight, Polish Women’s Strike joins forces with women in Latin America, thanks to whom the characteristic shade of green has become a symbolic color of the global fight for women’s right to self-determination. In agreement with them, Polish Women’s Strike designed the Polish version of the #AbortoLegalYa green scarfs #LegalAbortionNow. They are being sold in the online store – here: https://bit.ly/2Th1LvG, with the proceedings going to the fight for legal abortion in Poland.
Marta Lempart, Polish Women’s Strike initiator spoke at the event: “Why now? Because there are already 69% of people behind legal abortion in Poland. If somebody says that there is “half a half” [with 11% of those in favour of stricture), that they “don’t know”, then they are manipulating or simply lying. Everything is known!
Disco Legal also had more South American themes. Activists led the performance of “El violador eres tu”, the anti – patriarchal dance of the Chilean collective Las Tesis. Klementyna Suchanow, Polish writer and activist, who has just published an investigative book “This is war” about the rebellion of women worldwide and global networks of religious fundamentalists, sent a message in Spanish to activists on the other side of the world.
“We are the line of resistance, we are the barricade!” was the women’s call, led by Bożena Przyłuska and Agnieszka Czerederecka , leaders of the Warsaw Strike group, to oppose neo-fascism. They were referring to the fact that the Roman Dmowski roundabout in Warsaw, where the DiscoLegal took place, is a symbolic place for Polish neofascists, who are treating Dmowski, Polish nationalist politician, as their inspiration. In 2019, the Warsaw’s Women’s Strike group has put a petition to the capital city mayor, Robert Trzaskowski, to rename the roundabout as „Women’s Rights’ roundabout” and since campaigns for an alternative use of the name.
The Polish Women’s Strike also invited the Extinction Rebellion climate movement group, whose activist said to the gathered – “I’m a woman, so I’m a feminist, I’m a human being, so I’m fighting for the climate!”
Two members of Polish parliament, representing the New Left Party, Anna Maria Żukowska and Katarzyna Kotula appeared to present a project of a bill to legalize abortion, which is soon to be submitted to the parliament. The bill includes not only access to abortion, but also access to sexual education and contraception (including the after-pill). Katarzyna Kotula (acting in a double role – as a deputy and as one of the leaders and activists of the Polish Women’s Strike) said: “The fight for legal abortion is a fight for democracy! There is no democracy without human rights!”.
Poland is one of the few European countries where abortion is prohibited. It is allowed only in 3 cases – threatening the health or life of a woman, when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest and when the foetus is irreversibly damaged.
The number of abortions performed in the underground and abroad is estimated at over 120,000 cases per year. The number of legal abortions amounts to about 1000 cases and is constantly decreasing – among other things, due to the illegal use of the so-called conscientious objection clause by whole hospitals, legal abortions are performed only in 10% of institutions which should provide this service.
Public support for legalization of abortion amounts to almost 70% in Poland and this is a shocking, sudden increase that took place after 2016, after Black Monday on October 3rd, 2016, i.e. Polish Women’s Strike – mass protests of women against the project of tightening the already very strict law.
Despite this, most of the Polish political scene, not only the right -wing populist government, but also opposition politicians, ignores the above data and claims that the current situation is a ‘compromise’. Only the New Left and the Green Party are in favour of legalizing abortion in Poland.