Over the weekend in Poland, thousands of people marched to protest against the country’s attempt to pass more stringent abortion laws.
It worked. The Polish government is backing off of its proposal for a near-total abortion ban, citing the massive grassroots opposition.
Jarosław Gowin, the minister of science and higher education, said on Wednesday that the protest “caused us to think and taught us humility.”
The right-wing Polish government has been under international and European pressure to not move forward with the new regulations, which would totally ban abortion — except in cases where the mother’s life is in jeopardy — and raise the prison sentence for having an abortion from two years to five years.
Poland’s restrictions on abortion are already incredibly severe. A devoutly Catholic nation, Poland passed a law in 1993 stipulating that a woman can obtain an abortion only if “there is proof of rape or incest, the mother’s life is endangered or the fetus is severely malformed,” according to the Guardian.
The majority of Poles want to keep the current regulations in place, according to a recent poll by Newsweek Polska, with 74 percent supporting the current rules on abortion.
Senate speaker Stanisław Karczewski said Wednesday that Poland’s upper house would hold off on pushing the legislation that would further restrict abortions in the country. He said, however, he still supports enacting a ban on abortions of fetuses diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome.
During Sunday’s demonstration, called the “Black Protest” and held by pro-choice group Save the Women, flags and banners were unfurled with slogans reading “We need doctors, not police” and “Stop the fanatics in power.”
“I am really angry about these guys in suits who want to make decisions about the lives of people who find themselves sometimes in unbearable situations,” Anna Blumsztajn, a high school teacher, told AFP during the demonstration.