Poland abortion ruling sparks protest in Aberdeen

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Hundreds gathered in Aberdeen to protest the court ruling passed in Poland, which introduced a near-total ban on abortion.

The protest, which took place in Castlegate on Wednesday evening, saw people from many different nationalities showing their support for Polish women.

This comes after the Polish court ruled to outlaw terminations on the basis of serious health defects on the 22nd of October. The decision means that terminations are valid only in cases of rape or incest, or in order to protect the life of the woman.

This makes up only 2% of legal abortions in Poland, according to the Guardian. The opponents to this ruling argue that by requiring them to bear an infant that is unlikely to survive birth, it puts women at risk. 

The protest held in Aberdeen discussed these issues at length with a plethora of people speaking to the crowd.

Many of the supporters were dressed in black, waving signs that said 'my body, my choice.' and 'Women's hell'.  Additionally, certain attendees brought black umbrellas, candles, and hangars, which have been previously used as symbols during the pro-choice marches in Poland. The candles were placed on the steps of Gordon Highlanders’ statue and lit, creating a sombre atmosphere.

The opening speech raised many good and well-delivered points, explaining that the families of disabled children in Poland only get a one-time fund of about 800 pounds to deal with all the doctor appointments, medication, therapy, life-saving devices.

This, more often than not, is not enough. To add fuel to the fire, 60% of them live on the verge of poverty. The respite care system in Poland barely exists, which means that parents are forced to give up their dreams, careers, and personal lives in order to become full-time guardians.

As the protest continued, people from the crowd were given the opportunity to go up and voice their opinions. Many talked about how inhumane the ruling is, some shared personal stories, and others addressed how important it is to stand in solidarity with the women in Poland.

As one woman rightly pointed out, this can happen anywhere and it is immensely important that everyone stands together to defend the rights of all women.

In between speeches, the gathered protestors were encouraged to chant slogans, both in English and in Polish.

Near the end, the organisers put on music and encouraged everyone to dance along, while maintaining social distancing.

 While the turnout can be labelled as a success, the question if it will change anything in Poland remains unanswered.

The protest that took place in Aberdeen is one of many that are currently taking place all over the world.  

It is worth noting that attempts to tighten the already stringent laws in previous years have led to a large protest movement, with tens of thousands of women dressed in black marching through major Polish cities.

Surveys found that although society was divided on liberalising abortion, a further tightening of the rules was favoured by only a small minority, and after the protests in 2016, the PiS  government backed away from endorsing stricter restrictions.

Now the new ruling has sparked protests once again in many polish cities where there is a clear atmosphere of hatred for the current political party in charge, the Law and Justice party (PiS). Many protestors, including the ones in Aberdeen, can often be heard chanting swearing at PiS.  

There is no clear sign of the protests stopping anytime soon.

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