‘I wish I could abort my government’: We spoke to one of the activists at Poland’s abortion protest

‘I can’t believe we still have to fight for this shit’

On Monday thousands of people took to the streets throughout Poland to march against a medieval Government legislation that would effectively ban abortion. Currently, Polish law only allows abortions where the mother or foetus is at risk, or in cases of rape or incest. Protesters wore black, a move that symbolised the mourning of the loss of women’s autonomy over their own wombs.


Let’s take a moment to think about that.

How can it be, that in our supposedly ‘progressive’ world, anyone is allowed to dictate a woman’s body other than her? That a woman can be legally investigated for having a miscarriage? That she can serve jail time for making a choice about her own body?

We chatted to Julia Mardeusz, a 23-year-old student who took part in the protests in Warsaw.

What has the atmosphere in Poland been like over the last few days?
It’s weird. The atmosphere is at once very positive since so many people showed up for the protests, but also very sad and negative since we still have to fight for this shit.

Are people hopeful for change? Do you think the government will listen?
It would be too optimistic to say that I am hopeful for change. At the moment, we’re trying to stop the proposed bill – which is trying to tighten the law so that abortion would be illegal in all circumstances (even rape, incest, threat to the mother’s health, or if the foetus would be seriously damaged).

For now, I’m just hoping that the bill will be rejected and the law will stay as it is, even though obviously I would want abortion in any case to be legal in Poland.

How long have the strikes been going on for?
There have been protests around tightening the abortion laws for a while. The protests started around September 21, when we dressed in black for the first time, spawning the hashtag #blackprotest. After this brutal bill was accepted for further reading in parliament, this protest started, first on the 22nd during the reading, and then last Saturday.

The strike on Monday was the largest, with protesters abandoning work to be there. There were around 30,000 people out in Warsaw alone, with huge numbers turning out in towns and cities across the country – even abroad.


Has it been mainly women striking?
Yes, loads of women were striking but a lot of men were supporting them, are dressing in black in solidarity, or are going to the marches and protests. It’s not only young women, the demographic most affected by the law, who you can see at the protests, it’s also a lot of elderly women, men or even kids.

What is the message you’re trying to get across?
We want to demonstrate that this law shows no respect for women. It makes it sound like women can think for themselves and shouldn’t be treated like “sacks for zygote” as some wise doctor advocating against this bill said.

Is there one main slogan people are using? What’s the mantra of the marches?
There are lots of slogans, some of them are not great, too radical or offensive but there are some which are good. One is “No women, no kraj” (kraj means country and is pronounced as cry), the other is “Beata, this government will be overturned by women” (Beata is the Prime Minister’s name), “We want doctors, not policemen”, “No legal abortion kills”, “We will stop fanatics”.

There’s also this drawing of a uterus which has a middle finger up, the sign of Fighting Poland (which was used during second world war). But instead of Polska (the name of Poland in Polish) the ‘s’ is crossed out so it reads ‘Polka’ (which is female, polish woman).

The Polish government have issued a statement saying that the protests had “caused us to think and taught us humility”, although there has been no legal confirmation of the repealing of the bill.

Featured picture credit: dziewuchypolonia