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Since October 22, large protests against abortion ban have been taking place all around Poland. The capital faced the largest throngs of people. Dozens of thousands of protesters marched through the streets of Warsaw on Friday evening.
The current protests are the largest since the fall of communist regime in Poland in 1989.
Earlier in 2016 and 2018, the ruling Law and Justice Party had already tried to introduce the restriction on abortion, but nationwide demonstrations erupted twice. Today the law was accepted by the Polish Constitutional Court, who de facto prohibited abortions. The judges found unconstitutional the provision of legislation that allowed a woman to terminate a pregnancy if the fetus was found to have a serious and irreversible defect or an incurable disease that threatens its life.
Poland is a Catholic country where one of the most restrictive abortion laws among the world’s wealthier countries was adopted in 1993. In recent years, the ruling party has strengthened this line. The conservative measures were provoked by the high number of abortions in the country. Inter alia, this is due to the fact that there was a large flow of young girls from Ukraine and Belarus who were engaged in prostitution in the hope of easy earnings. This provoked cultural differences and an increase in illegal abortions, as Polish doctors retained the right to refuse surgery or not prescribe pills.
Despite the fact that the current demonstration was largely peaceful, there was an important police presence due to concerns that the clashes could break out with right-wing counter-protesters, who were also widely present on the streets of Warsaw after the call of the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.
Poland is the center of gravity for students from Eastern Europe. Plenty of young people from Ukraine and Belarus actively come there. They represent a large ardent crowd that mostly supports the modern aggressive neoliberal agenda. Crowds of women filled the streets of the capital, joined by thousands of men and a wide array of groups who were not satisfied with the conservative politics of Law and Justice Party.
Except the abortion ban, the protesters propelled a larger liberal agenda. The separate target is the Polish Catholic Church, as an institution that allegedly restricts the rights of citizens. Throughout the week, the protesters broke into the churches,vandalizing church facades and staging sit-ins.
These protests put into question the implementation of the strong Pilsudskiy-style national project. The one that Polish elites have been striving for decades.
Today’s events in Poland have a lot in common with left-wing protests in Latin America. In general, their logic is formed in the American neo-liberal think tanks, but are taken up by the masses of protesters with left-wing views. An interesting paradox is taking place, when elite remote groups use the masses who profess very different views.
This is the way the future emerges, where society will be divided into two unequal groups. The first is represented by a narrow circle of elites, families, who are adherent to neo-liberal ideas with a somewhat esoteric and mystical perception of the world. The second group is much more numerous and represents the masses, a kind of new proletariat following left-wing, mostly neo-Marxist views.
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