By Jessica Johnson
It is time that country leaders are held accountable for controlling basic human rights: a woman’s right to her own body.
Poland’s recent outlaw by the courts proves this.
In Central Europe, on Oct. 22, the Constitutional Tribunal in Poland introduced new restrictions on abortions within it’s borders — which held that abortions for fetal abnormalities violate the Constitution. The ruling was held by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the deputy prime minister and leader of the ruling Law and Justice party.
Unlike Poland, the U.S. government gives citizens the option to appeal a case or enacted legislation, if “a litigant is not satisfied with a decision made by a federal administrative agency,” and may hold a review of the agency decision by a court of appeals. This is a U.S. law system put in place to ensure that our voices are somewhat heard, even if there is no guarantee of a change in that legislation/restriction.
However, this is a decision that even with peaceful protesting, cannot be appealed.
Protests began in Poland that same day, over the restrictions on abortion becoming even narrower. According to the New York Times, tens of thousands of Poles participated in a nationwide strike on the sixth day, and on the eighth an even larger, outraged crowd gathered in Warsaw. Some of the demonstrators dressed as characters from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood that portrays oppressed women in a patriarchal society, and the resilience they hold to the state (which treats them like property), in order to gain individuality and independence. Polish women have begun to also fight back against the Catholic Church, vandalizing churches and calling for their freedom from the ruling Law and Justice party.
The main reason behind the ruling stems from the amount of abortions resulting from fetal abnormalities. Poland has previously permitted terminations in three scenarios: in the case of a threat to a woman’s health, in the case of incest or rape (something U.S. restrictions still have issues with) and for fetal abnormalities. Last year, 1,074 of 1,100 of legal abortions performed in Poland resulted from fetal abnormalities.
However, it’s still not the government’s choice to decide whether a woman must look after a life that she may not have the resources to take care of. Especially, a child that may have fetal abnormalities, that may need special care once born. If a mother is aware of that before the child is born, or in the middle of the term, and they do not have the means, it’s better not to bring a life into this harsh world and let them possibly suffer or even end up systematically oppressed by the foster care system. Abortion is a case-by-case basis, and it’s not for anyone but the woman carrying a human life inside of her for nine months to decide.
This is the same issue that mirror’s the U.S. governments restrictions on abortions within state borders. Polish protesters are demanding that the court reverse itself and are also calling for liberalization of the abortion law; this mirrors the future of the U.S. if we continue letting Supreme Court Justices like Amy Coney Barrett decide our future.
Twenty-one states have signaled plans to ban all or most abortions should the court dismantle abortion rights, often without exceptions for rape or incest. Barrett already has demonstrated her willingness to let state legislatures pass all future abortion restrictions. She has been publicly open about overturning Roe v. Wade, especially when she was nominated for a seat in the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump. The main reason he chose Barrett was because of his promise to reverse Roe — one of his biggest, publicly voiced, ignorant Republican beliefs.
According to NBC News, if the court’s conservative majority is skeptical about Roe, other autonomy-based rights, including contraception, could be at risk. Barrett may open the door to bans on selective abortion or birth control on a federal level, by actually voting to overturn Roe and pushing for tighter restrictions.
Polish people have been protesting for more than three weeks now, and nothing has changed. Now that Barrett is officially appointed into the Supreme Court, if Roe vs. Wade is overturned and abortion is outlawed in the U.S., is this the same vain future we must prepare ourselves for? Will women still have the right to mold their futures?