Since taking office in 2015, about 100,000 protesters marched on the streets of the Polish capital Warsaw last Friday. This is the biggest angry demonstration against Poland’s ruling right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS).
Since the Polish Constitutional Court declared earlier this month that abortion when a fetus was diagnosed with a serious and irreversible birth defect was unconstitutional, protests have been held across the country. Such procedures account for approximately 96% of legal abortions in Poland, which already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe.
On Wednesday, activists who supported the right to choose called it a “women̵
A few hours before Friday’s protest, Polish right-wing President Andrzej Duda announced what he called a “legislative solution” to the political crisis and proposed to allow the termination of labor in the event of a birth defect. However, termination of fetuses suffering from diseases such as Down syndrome will be prohibited.
Duda’s intervention was strongly condemned by Polish medical and legal institutions, and did not calm the anger of the government and its de facto leader, PiS founder Jarosław Kaczyński.
On Friday, thousands of protesters gathered in various locations throughout the city, chanting “I think, I think, I decide” and anti-PiS slogans.
The protests were held at a time when the government imposed strict restrictions on the surge in coronavirus infections and deaths in recent weeks. It was characterized by humorous slogans and placards and the participation of Poles in their teens and twenties.
However, violent incidents also occurred. Nationalist bands dressed in black attacked demonstrators on the streets of Warsaw. According to Polish police, several of them were arrested carrying knives and batons.
Earlier this week, Kaczyński spoke across the country, calling on his supporters to defend the church from protests due to service interruptions. In some cases, the church was damaged during protests last weekend . Some have accused PiS leaders of secretly encouraging far-right organizations to attack demonstrators.
Thousands of protesters gathered in the center of Warsaw on Friday night and marched north to the tree-lined suburbs where Kaczyński lived, but were subsequently blocked by hundreds of riot police.
Maja Wojcikowska, one of the organizers of the protests, told the radio and television station: “I was just talking to a young lady. She told me that she was 24 years old and what she did except protests in the past six days. Neither did it. “There is an incredible energy, and we will not waste it. “