Saturday 10 December 2016

Up to six million people in Poland expected to strike against proposed abortion ban

Published 03/10/2016 | 14:12

Women gesture as people gather in an abortion rights campaigners' demonstration to protest against plans for a total ban on abortion in front of the ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) headquarters in Warsaw, Poland October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
Women gesture as people gather in an abortion rights campaigners' demonstration to protest against plans for a total ban on abortion in front of the ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) headquarters in Warsaw, Poland October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
Women gesture as people gather in an abortion rights campaigners' demonstration to protest against plans for a total ban on abortion in front of the ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) headquarters in Warsaw, Poland October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
A woman holds a placard in an abortion rights campaigners' demonstration to protest against plans for a total ban on abortion in front of the Palace of Culture in Warsaw, Poland October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

Polish women and male supporters are striking today in protest against a proposed abortion ban.

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Women have been asked by pro-choice groups not to go to work, to keep their daughters from school and to refuse to engage in any domestic work as a warning to Poland’s parliament against passing the bill.

An Ipsos poll found that 15pc of people surveyed wanted to participate, meaning that as many as six million people could refuse to work today.

A number of businesses have closed in solidarity with protesters, as pro-choice groups hope to grind the economy to a halt. Protesters are wearing black to symbolise mourning the women whose lives they say will be put at risk by the ban and what some protesters are calling the 'death of women's rights'.

Solidarity demonstrations are underway in European cities and even as far away as New Delhi, India. Campaigners have asked supporters all over the world to post pictures of themselves wearing black with the hashtag #blackprotest or #czarnyprotest.

The proposed bill, proposed by the conservative Catholic lobby group Ordo Iuris, would remove the exceptions for rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality, effectively banning abortions unless the woman’s life is in danger.

Women could be sentenced to up to five years in prison for obtaining a termination under the new law. It is currently being debated at committee stage and has the support of sections of the ruling Law and Justice party.

The strike was inspired by the Icelandic women’s strikes of 1975, where women refused to work, do any domestic work or look after their children to protest the lack of equal rights for women.

Supporters of the bill have organised counter-demonstrations and asked people to wear white to contrast the black.

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