Polish Women Ditch Work And Wear Black To Strike Against Proposed Abortion Ban

Polish women are demonstrating across Poland in protest to a new ban that would effectively see the end of abortion

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Update Thursday 6 October 2016: In a landmark move, the justice and human rights committee – which reviews proposed legislation – has urged parliament to reject the controversial ban on abortion following Monday's protests.

According to The Guardian, liberal MP and former prime minister Ewa Kopacz told reporters the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) had 'backtracked because it was scared by all the women who hit the streets in protest'.

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While you were choosing your outfit and leaving to go to work this week, women across Poland were donning black clothes and grabbing flags to boycott their jobs as part of a nationwide strike in protest against a new proposal that would criminalise abortion.

Following protests on Saturday outside the Polish parliament in Warsaw, women have taken to the streets wearing black to symbolise the mourning they'd face if they lost their reproductive rights.

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Called the 'Black Protests', the organisers' Facebook page explains: 'On Monday, October 3rd, women in Poland will take off work, school and home work to join the protest against a plan to take away the freedom from them to decide about their own bodies and their pregnancies.'

Polish law currently permits abortions up to 25 weeks after conception but only if the mother's life is in danger, the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest or the fetus is 'seriously malformed'.

However, the new law proposes to remove all of these exceptions (unless the woman's life is in danger) and would criminalise terminations. Women found to have had an abortion may be punished with a five-year prison sentence and doctors found to have assisted a termination could also be liable for jail time.

As a result, critics fear doctors might be unwilling to conduct routine procedures on pregnant women on the chance they could be accused of attempting to perform a termination.

Activists called for the strike after the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party sent to committee a bill proposing the near-total ban on abortion on 23 September.

As a result, the strike – otherwise known as the 'national absence campaign' – urged women to take a day off work, do charity work or give blood, instead.

An advice leaflet advises supporters: 'If you have to be at work or at home: dress in black, take a picture and post it in social media using the hashtag #CzarnyProtest to show solidarity.'

In Częstochowa, – arguably one of the country's most Catholic cities – the city hall reported that 60% of female workers had not turned up to work this morning.

#blackprotest #czarnyprotest #polishwomenonstrike defending free choice My Body My Choice #berlin

A photo posted by Street Comix (@ewajaski) on

Today's protests are inspired by a strike on 24 October 1975 in Iceland when 90% of women refused to work, cook or care for their children as a way of reminding society on the importance of women in the community and their low pay.

According to The Guardian, between 80,000 and 190,000 Polish women are estimated to undergo terminations each year by travelling abroad or paying for illegal abortions.

The proposed law threatens women's safety, human and reproductive rights. Show your support for the strike using the hashtags #czarnyprotest and #blackprotest.

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