Polish women in Prague protested Poland's new abortion laws over the weekend

The protests, which took place throughout Saturday and Sunday, were organized by Polish nationals living in the Czech capital

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas
Published on 26.10.2020 13:36 (updated on 26.10.2020)

Protesters of multiple nationalities descended on the Polish embassy in Prague this weekend in response to legislation recently passed in Poland that banned almost all abortions.

Candles and signs in both the Polish and English languages were left at the entrance to the Polish embassy on Prague's Valdštejnská street throughout Saturday and Sunday, as local protestors sought to draw attention to what many see as a giant step back for women’s rights.

“The aim of the event is solidarity with Polish women and to show our objection to the new abortion law in Poland,” said Kinga Ostapkowicz, one of the protests’ three organizers, all of which are Polish women based in the Czech capital.

A Polish constitutional court ruled last Thursday that abortions due to fetal defects were "incompatible" with the constitution. As roughly 98% of abortions in Poland were performed as a result of fetal defects in 2019, the ruling bans virtually all abortions from taking place in the country.

“We disagree with that and we think that it is our fundamental right to be able to decide for ourselves,” said Ostapkowicz who encouraged participants to arrive separately due to the current COVID-19 restrictions. 

She adds that while an exact number of those in attendance isn’t known, over 700 people showed interest in the protest on Facebook.

Candles in signs outside the Polish Embassy in Prague
Candles in signs outside the Polish Embassy in Prague / photo via Natalia Różycka

Ostapkowicz says that even though the embassy has been removing the banners and candles regularly, the space in front of the building fills up with signs again in a few hours.

She said the group sent an e-mail to the embassy with photos from the weekend but that it has yet to respond.

“We actually didn’t expect that it would have such an impact, but not only many Polish people (both women and men) attended but also many Czechs and expats have shown their support,” Ostapkowicz said.

A Facebook page devoted to the protest indicates that the event is planned to continue through the end of October.

In Poland, thousands of protestors have clashed with police since the ruling, many wielding signs declaring the new law to be an act of war.

Ostapkowicz said, "We will protest even longer until the situation in Polands settles down," and added, "Let’s hope that this war will end soon, because this is war."