This article originally appeared on VICE Poland
Last Saturday, 1 October, thousands of protesters dressed in black came together in front of the Polish parliament. For the second week in a row, they were collectively mourning the demise of women's rights in Poland and protesting the proposed near-total ban on abortion in the country. Among the protesters were women and men of all ages, representatives of political parties from the far left to the political centre – and quite a few feminist organisations.
A little over a week ago, the initiative behind the protest – the pro-choice coalition Save Women – proposed a draft bill that would give women in Poland the right to abort a pregnancy that hasn't surpassed 12 weeks. But on Friday, 23 September, MPs voted against it. Instead, they voted in favour of further banning and criminalising abortion – with this other proposed bill, women who terminate their pregnancy can face up to five years in prison. Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło has said in an interview that the street isn't the appropriate place to discuss abortion – which led Save Women to ask during Saturday's protest: "So, what is the appropriate place to discuss it, if you threw out our draft bill in parliament?"
Today, Polish women are having a general strike they're calling "Black Monday" – staying home from work and school and taking to the streets to protest. They aim to paralyse the country as a final warning to the government not to mess with their reproductive rights. This coming Wednesday, the European Parliament has ordered a debate on the state of women's rights in Poland.
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