Women in Poland have been on strike nationwide for the past week, in mass protests over a court ruling that would impose a near-total ban on abortion in the country.
These demonstrations have been seen in bigger cities like Warsaw and also smaller ones like neighboring Zgorzelec– with several hundred women and men demonstrating on the streets last week.
Poland already has strict abortion laws which currently only permit an abortion when the mother’s life is in danger, the child is the product of rape or incest, or when the fetus is malformed.
The Polish Constitutional Court ruled two weeks ago that this last exception: abortions due to severe malformations in the fetus, are a violation of the constitution.
This decision met great resistance from human rights organizations around Europe, which stated that the ruling is tantamount to a ban on abortions and would increase the suffering for many women and put their lives at risk. Supporters of the ruling insist it will protect life, specifically the abortion of fetuses diagnosed with Down’s syndrome.
Mayor of Zgorzelec Rafal Gronicz spoke in support of the women on strike and their anger but cautioned against such demonstrations during a time when Poland is seeking to limit contact and slow the spread of the virus.
The red lightning bolt has become a symbol of the demonstrations, with many changing their profile photos on social media in support of the strike.