Polish women intensify protests demanding repeal of ban on abortions

The country-wide demonstrations took place following the death of a woman due to pregnancy-related complications. Her family has alleged that they were not told that her life was in danger

June 15, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
15-06 Anti-abortion Law - Poland
Women’s mobilization in Zielona Góra. (Photo: via Anna Komar, Facebook)

Outraged by the death of a woman due to pregnancy-related complications, women’s rights groups and other progressive sections in Poland have intensified protests demanding the repeal of a draconian law that effectively bans abortions.  On June 14 and 15, numerous demonstrations were organized by the National Women’s Strike (Strajk Kobiet) in cities such as Gdansk, Krakow, Lublin, Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw, and Bialystok. 

On May 24, a 33-year-old woman, identified as Dorota Lalik, died due to pregnancy-related complications at John Paul II Hospital at Nowy Targ in southern Poland. Her husband alleged that nobody from the hospital had told them that her life was in a critical condition. Later, Poland’s patients’ rights ombudsman, Bartłomiej Chmielowiec, also slammed the hospital for not telling the patient and her relatives that her life could have been saved through an abortion. 

In the demonstrations, women in Poland raised their voice against “murder and torture in maternity wards, against forcing women to carry unwanted pregnancies and to give birth, against the ban on abortion, against the criminal rule of the Law and Justice (PiS) party and the cynicism of doctors.” Leftist political party Razem also strongly attacked against the ban on abortions in the country imposed by the Constitutional Court under the instigation of the incumbent conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party and the Catholic Church. 

Protests were also held in London, Vienna, and Stockholm and many more are expected across the continent. 

In a widely condemned ruling in October 2020, the Polish Constitutional Court outlawed abortions in case of fetal defects. Ever since, doctors and hospitals have been extremely reluctant to perform abortions even though the law permits these procedures if the mother’s life is in danger. Doctors could even be jailed if prosecutors feel they performed the procedure too early. In September 2021, a 30-year-old woman, Izabela, died from pregnancy-related complications in Pszczyna, triggering massive protests across the country.

Regarding the protests, Strajk Kobiet stated, “Dorota from Nowy Targ is dead because abortion was not considered to prevent sepsis, the symptoms of which were ignored. Dorota from Nowy Targ is dead because she was lied to. Her and her family. Dorota from Nowy Targ is dead because the Polish anti-abortion law kills and makes doctors political minions instead of healthcare experts. Dorota is dead because doctors do not rebel.”