What Poland witnessing is a fashion of more than protests, as the observers who closely and keenly watching the grounds of the European country say the large-scale and unprecedented protests from women could revolutionize politics and change the political system, that is largely made up of and tied to the Catholic church.
Poland has been clouded by the voices of women across the country as they have been staging protests on the streets of Poland since October and the agitation has been triggered by the court decision, which dictated to ban most abortions. Hundreds of thousands of women and teenagers have been occupying the streets and headlines for many weeks to protest against what they called as a drive to abolish their rights.
As they march against the ban on abortions, women are bracing up tear gas, heavy deployment of police, and soaring COVID-19 cases and they advance their protest to voice against the government and prevailing political culture that developed in the 1990s after the fall of Communism. Most of the protesters think that agitation is inevitable due to the current trend of politics.
With the nationwide call from women, Poland has brought under scrutiny and forceful renegotiation of the foundations of government power and the behind the screen deals among men fueled by the system. The unprecedented protests and demand from women beckon the call for reproductive freedom and their calls for greater equality have been powerfully pushing to upend and reframe the power structure, that has come as the replacement of Communism.
Speaking to The New York Times, Zoe Slusarczyk from Warsaw said, "There is pressure to go to every single protest, even if you are totally exhausted and you don't have the energy to work, to go to school". Zoe is 15-year-old and is a member of a newly active younger generation that has flocked to the protests along with thousands. While the country came out of communalism, it has caught under the hands of the Catholic Church, which currently lends its authority to politicians in exchange for the government's enforcing ecclesiastical mortality, including restricting abortion.
The play of religion in the drama of governance has been sparking protests across the country with the involvement of the Catholic Church in banning abortions has fueled the agitation as one of the Church's main priorities was a law restricting abortion, which had been widely available in the Communist era. According to Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus, who is a leftist member of Parliament known for her works on child abuse within the church, "The resulting 1993 abortion law was like a contract between politicians and bishops".
The relationship between the Catholic Church and politicians has framed as a political arrangement in the country for decades and the uprise of women advocating for gender equality would disrupt the arrangement as this arrangement has now been seen trailing after revelations that the church had protected pedophile priests in Poland and other countries when Pope John Paul II was in the Vatican. John Paul has been regarded as Poland's favorite son.
Though the church's claim to be the defender of Polish democracy, which won by supporting the movement against Communism in the 1980s, the contemporary activists in Poland have said that the current political arrangement has dismantled liberal institutions and has been promoting xenophobic and authoritarian policies. The Catholic church gave crucial support in building the pro-democracy movement after the fall of Communism. Amid the smooth transition to democracy, the church has got deeply embedded in politics and able to insist that the new government legislate the church's position on social issues.
One such position of the church is banning abortions and the country's court had dictated its decision in favor of the church and its policies, which sparked uproar across the country from women as they uphold the fact that women had more reproductive freedom under the Communist era that they have in the current democracy. Though the law restricting abortions came with some exceptions in the case of rape or incest, danger to the life of the mother, or fetal abnormality, protesting women demand full reproductive freedom.
"I think, I feel, I decide", has been a signature slogan of the protests and it has been strongly and widely chanted by women in streets across the country during the demonstrations. On October 22nd, the nation's Constitutional Tribunal ruled that aborting fetuses with congenital defects should be illegal, even in cases of irreversible birth defects. Following the ruling, the nation has been witnessing protests as women and young people have been getting involved in the largest demonstrations.
They have been carrying placards that read, 'I wish I could abort my government' demanding abortion rights and some of the European countries have been witnessing protests outside Polish embassies and consulates. A joint statement, signed by multiple international organizations, including the Global Justice Center and the Center for Reproductive Rights, condemned the restriction of access to women's health care and called for support for protesters.