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This article explores the ‘Black Protest’ demonstration in Poland against a proposed abortion law, which would have been one of the most restrictive in the European Union.
The election of the Law and Justice Party (PiS) in 2015, and its growing authoritarianism, has politicized thousands of Poles and stimulated large-scale protests. Women have been at the forefront, linking the demand for reproductive rights with the wider resistance to the ruling party. In particular, the proposal to restrict the abortion law sparked mass mobilization in 2016. These Black Protests became a formative experience for many previously inactive. This article examines this latest wave of feminist activism in Poland and its methods, from a generational perspective. It scrutinises in detail the narrative of a “new generation of activists,” who claim they are making Polish feminism more inclusive, creative and bolder.
On the 23rd March 2018, tens of thousands of Polish citizens demonstrated against the right-wing populist government’s renewed attempt (after its defeat in 2016) to make the existing abortion laws even more restrictive. In what has become known as the #BlackProtest movement, people dressed in black to show their opposition to attempts to restrict abortion. This paper explores the laws, regulations and policies related to abortion in Poland within a wider global context.
This paper discusses the events of the 2016 mobilization against a proposed total abortion ban proposal through a lens of reproductive justice, and explains the context of the struggle. The authors examine the Strike as a ‘tumultuous act of women’s solidarity’, while simultaneously assessing its implications for RJ issues. They also discuss the aftermath and the social unwillingness to acknowledge the complexities of women’s lives and reproductive choices. They also provide arguments for applying the RJ framework to illuminate the concept of ideal citizens, and to explore gendered social control in Poland. This study has a global relevance, reflecting the impact of worldwide trends in women’s rights activism, and the relevance of RJ in the context of resurfacing nationalisms and populism.
After the initial hopes for democracy and freedom after the fall of the state socialist regime in 1989, political forces that had been dormant during the state socialist era began to emerge, and to establish a new religious-nationalist orthodoxy. Solidarity, which played a key role in ending the communist regime, had worked quietly with the Catholic Church. Most Poles were at least nominally Catholics. As the Church emerged as a political force in the Polish Sejm and Senate, it promoted a rapid erosion of women’s reproductive rights, especially the right to abortion established under the former regime. This book is an anthropological study of this expansion of power by the religious right and its effects on individual rights and social attitudes. It explores the contradictions of postsocialist democratization in Poland and provides the background to the advance on abortion rights activism in Poland.
Abortion in Poland was legal under Communism and became illegal (with a few exceptions) after the political shift to multi-party democracy. Feminists opposing the abortion law had little impact. This changed in 2016, when hundreds of thousands of Poles across the country took to the streets in the Czarny Protest, or Black Protest. They opposed a bill that would remove some of the exceptions in the existing legislation and impose criminal sanctions on abortion. The scale of the protest meant that the proposal was stalled, despite the newly elected right-wing populist government. It was a surprising victory for the feminist movement, especially after a similar proposal in 2011 received almost no public attention and failed to mobilise resistance even among feminists. This paper looks back at the pro-choice movement before the mass mobilisation in 2016. It draws on interviews and focus groups conducted with pro-choice activists in Poland between 2011 and 2012, when the feminist movement was predominantly active online rather than on the streets. The paper concludes with questions about the success of the mass mobilisation that took place five years later in 2016, which was largely mobilised from online platforms. It asks whether there has been a shift within the pro-choice feminist movement or a sudden interest in feminist politics among the Polish public or whether the 2016 protest reflected a broader dissatisfaction with the current regime. If the third exploration is correct, what are the implications for feminist activism in Poland and the wider resistance to right-wing politics?
Explores how women's reproductive rights and needs are reflected in pro-life and pro-choice public debate in Poland.
This work comprises almost 100 interviews with local coordinators of Polish Women’s Strike (OSK) groups throughout the country designed to reveal the people behind a countrywide network that organized the successful 2016 protests against attempts to tighten the already restrictive abortion law. The authors also explore what drove them to activism and how they understood the concept of an ‘ordinary woman’.
The article analyses the language used by the Polish nationalist right in relation to LGBT communities and women’s right to abortion. The authors show links between the language of Church officials hierarchs and right-wing columnists. The attack on gender uses the same methods of political mobilisation and power management as the campaign against refugees and immigrants. The anti-gender discourse may strengthen the narrative against the ‘liberal EU’ and create substitute ‘scapegoats’ inside Poland. The dispersed anti-gender discourse does have a real impact on social attitudes – on the one hand, it polarises social sympathies and, on the other hand, it strengthens right-wing attitudes. The analysis is based on right-wing press articles, Church officials’ statements, videos on YouTube and a parliamentary debate about the right to abortion.