A victory for Polish women

The Guardian reports:

A controversial proposal to ban abortion in Poland appears to have collapsed after senior politicians from the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) backed away from it after a parliamentary committee urged MPs to vote it down following mass protests.

The justice and human rights committee, which reviews proposed legislation, recommended that parliament reject the bill following a wave of protests earlier in the week that appear to have caught the rightwing government off guard.

In a humiliating climbdown, PiS members who had referred the legislation to the committee less than two weeks ago threw it out.

The Liberal MP and former prime minister Ewa Kopacz told reporters the PiS had “backtracked because it was scared by all the women who hit the streets in protest”.

Tens of thousands of people boycotted work and classes on Monday to protest against the proposals, which if enacted would impose a blanket ban on abortion, including in instances of pregnancy as a result of rape or incest.

About 30,000 people, many dressed in black, gathered in wretched weather in Warsaw’s Castle Square, chanting “We want doctors, not missionaries!” and carrying placards bearing messages such as “My Uterus, My Opinion” and “Women Just Want to Have FUN-damental Rights.”

Jarosław Gowin, the minister of science and higher education, said on Wednesday that the protests had “caused us to think and taught us humility”.

“The protest was bigger than anyone expected. People were astonished,” said Agnieszka Graff, a commentator and activist. “Warsaw was swarming with women in black. It was amazing to feel the energy and the anger, the emotional intensity was incredible.”

The proposed law which is a ban with no exceptions for rape or pregnancy incest is at the extreme end of abortion laws – only Vatican City and Malta have the same.

A recent poll found only 14% supported the proposed law of a total ban.

The law would have seen women who had an abortion eligible for a five year jail term!

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