Sunday September 25, I called for the national strike. Very quickly, my friend started an event on Facebook, and we formed a group of organizers. What we did was kind of get people to organize protests. I put this poll on Facebook and asked people, “Do you want to protest? In what city? Name the cities. And people started to meet other people interested in demonstrating in their towns, even in small towns. In the end, 150 towns in Poland protested. Of course, it was in the big cities, it was in the capital. But the most important protests took place in small and medium-sized towns. It scared the government. They thought there would be places in Poland where there was no resistance. But it turned out that the government does not know if there is a city that will not protest. I think that’s what really scared them. The original ban was dropped after that.
And then what happened?
After that, we continued to protest. We protested several times and the government moved the question from Parliament to the Constitutional Court because they thought it would be easier for them. [Editor’s note: Since 2015, Poland’s ruling party has enacted a number of measures that have functionally stacked the Constitutional Court, the highest in the land, in their favor, with almost no room for dissent.] If you don’t have an independent judiciary, anything can happen to you and no law can protect you.
January’s decision to ban abortion due to fetal abnormality is invalid and illegal because the people who now sit in this so-called Constitutional Court are not judges of the Court. constitutional. But the practical implications are that they will say this decision is valid, that it will punish doctors for performing abortions, and that it will do everything in its power to prevent women from having abortions.
What do you think will happen next? Once it’s a law, it can’t be changed, can it?
We cannot change these new laws without changing the government. But we have judicial independence at the local level. We are talking about the hijacking of the Constitutional Court, but not of the local judiciary. We have a good chance that at some point someone wins a case for denial of abortion, and then there will be a precedent. And there will probably be a case that goes before the European court of human rights– when someone sues Poland for being refused an abortion. Of course, it’s a matter of time, and women don’t have that time.