Why Polish women are rallying for reproductive rights

Latest rallies comes after parliament, including some opposition politicians, rejected bill to liberalise abortion.


    • 1993: Abortion banned except in cases of rape, irreparable fetal damage and if woman’s life jeopardised
    • Sept 2016: Protests against citizens’ legal bid proposed by Christian NGO for near-total ban on abortion
    • Oct 2016: Parliament rejects bid for near-total ban
    • Jan 2017: Parliament rejects bill to liberalise abortion, sends proposal to ban abortion of sick fetuses for more work

    Krakow, Poland – On Wednesday, women across Poland plan to protest against attempts to further restrict access to abortion.

    Polish Women’s Strike, the organiser, is a coalition of women’s rights groups, pro-democracy initiatives and individuals mobilising through social media, and expects thousands to join in at least 50 cities. 

    In what has become something of a symbol of such protests in Poland, which is ruled by the anti-abortion Law and Justice party, the women plan to march dressed in black clothing.

    “Deja Vu Polish Women on Strike”, the banner under which the current wave of protests is taking place, is the result of a January 10 vote in the lower chamber of the parliament.

    Then, legislators chose to send a bill, introduced by the Life and Family Foundation group to ban the abortion of sick fetuses, for more work by parliamentary commissions.

    On the same day, parliament rejected a bill titled Save Women, proposed by women’s rights groups, to liberalise abortion.

    That measure advocated legalising abortion until the twelveth week of pregnancy and introducing sex education in schools, access to free contraception and prescription-free emergency contraception. It also included a ban on picket protests by the so-called pro-life movement displaying graphic images of fetuses, near hospitals and schools.

    Abortion in Poland is illegal except in cases of rape, when there is irreparable damage to the fetus and if the pregnancy jeopardises the mother’s life.

    The current law was introduced in 1993 following the fall of communism.

    Some members of the liberal opposition voted against the recent bill to liberalise abortion; nine more votes in favour would have helped the measure enter the committee stage.

    Aleksandra is among the women who will protest on Wednesday.

    “Until recently, I rarely participated in such demonstrations,” she told Al Jazeera. “But the situation has changed, as the discussion about women’s rights has shifted right and the old-fashioned vision of women’s role in society is gaining ground.”

    ‘We have to act’

    Many women feel betrayed by the opposition.

    “We’re showing that we know that a complete abortion ban is on the table in Poland,” Marta Lempart of the Polish Women’s Strike told Al Jazeera. “After the rejection of the Save Women bill, we feel that we are on our own and we have to act.”

    The demonstrations are part of a wider women’s rights movement, which grew out of Black Protest – a series of rallies against a ban on abortion in September 2016 proposed in a bill by the Ordo Iuris foundation, a Christian NGO.

    Then, demonstrators wore black clothes and some carried black umbrellas, metal hangers or red gloves.

    When in 2015, the [right-wing] Law and Justice [party] came to power and began – quickly and brutally – to change the institutional landscape, destroying democracy, a mass grassroots mobilisation began,” said Elzbieta Korolczuk, a Polish sociologist from Sodertorn University in Sweden.

    “From the beginning, it was clear that women constitute a large part of this movement, as they realised that the quality of democracy will have an impact on their rights,” she told Al Jazeera.

    The decision by Law and Justice to cut state subsidies for IVF and the fact that pro-life movements have support among the ruling party have spurred activism.

    In 2016, Ordo Iuris gathered signatures under a citizen initiative for a bill which would ban abortion in all the cases it was currently allowed. The group backed five-year prison sentences for women who decided to end their pregnancy.

    “Importantly, the [Ordo Iuris] bill referred to the ‘murder of an unborn child’ which would have effectively eliminated prenatal diagnosis, as some methods it uses may cause miscarriage,” Korolczuk said.

    “The percentage of such cases is small – between one and three – but the danger exists. Thus, many doctors stated that if the bill is voted through, they would not continue with prenatal tests as they would risk up to three years of imprisonment.”

    The Ordo Iuris bill replicated laws in El Salvador and Nicaragua where women who miscarry often serve prison sentences, charged with murder.

    “This caused a huge outrage of women, including those who were not in favour of legalisation, but felt that the bill violated their dignity and agency,” Korolczuk said.

    Mass mobilisation

    A women’s strike on October 3, 2016, in response to Ordo Iuris’ proposal – which was rejected in the end – was supported by the opposition who saw the bill as part of a wider attack against progressive forces.

    Almost 100,000 people rallied, according to police statistics, with attendance also high in small towns where people are less likely to express their political views due to fear of exclusion.

    Elzbieta Korolczuk, sociologist

    In neighbouring countries, women face fewer constraints in terms of reproductive rights.

    In Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Ukraine and the Baltic states, abortion is legal, although not infrequently politicised.

    “When it comes to the scale of women’s involvement and the power of the movement, Poland is a positive exception,” said Korolczuk, the sociologist. “Maybe because we have something to fight for, the movement is very diverse, strong and capable of large-scale mobilisation.”

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    Nuclear fears push Doomsday Clock closer to midnight

    Last time clock was at two minutes to midnight was in 1953, when US and Soviet Union were testing hydrogen bombs.

      The symbolic Doomsday Clock, which represents how close humanity is to destroying the planet, is the nearest it has been to signalling the end of the world since 1953.

      The clock was moved forward by 30 seconds on Thursday by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists because of mounting concern over nuclear war and climate change.

      The last time the clock was at two minutes to midnight – where midnight represents global catastrophe – was during the Cold War years, when the United States and the Soviet Union were testing hydrogen bombs, 65 years ago.

      2017 had proved to be a “perilous and chaotic” year, said Bulletin President Rachel Bronson.

      “We saw reckless language in the nuclear realm heat up already dangerous situations and re-learned that minimising evidence-based assessments regarding climate and other global challenges does not lead to better public policies.

      “Major nuclear actors are on the cusp of a new arms race, one that will be very expensive and will increase the likelihood of accidents and misperceptions. Across the globe, nuclear weapons are poised to become more rather than less usable because of nations’ investments in their nuclear arsenals,” Bronson said.

      Richard Somerville, a board member at the Bulletin, told Al Jazeera he hopes re-setting the clock will raise awareness of the risks of nuclear warfare and climate change.

      “One of our main motivations in even having the Doomsday Clock and going through the trouble of setting it every year is to motivate people to be concerned, to learn about these issues, and to make their views and concerns known to their governments,” Somerville told Al Jazeera.

      I am saddened but not surprised that this year, the #DoomsdayClock has been moved to 2 minutes to midnight, the closest it has ever been set towards global midnight and the first time it has been at that time since 1953 #turnbackthedoomsdayclock

      “US-Russian relations have deteriorated. There’s no ongoing high-level talks about nuclear arms control between the US and Russia – the two countries which between them have almost all of nuclear weapons in the world today. 

      “I think it’s this lack of strong international action that concerns us, and that’s very much true in the area of climate change as well,” he said.

      The Doomsday Clock has indicated how close humanity is to self-destruction since 1947.

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      ‘I don’t see what problem is’: Hewitt doubles partner defends him taking wildcards

      Lleyton Hewitt’s partner at last week’s Sydney International sees no reason why the 37-year-old should not continue to pick up doubles wildcards amid questions over whether his places in draws were leading to missed opportunities for younger players.

      Hewitt will begin his Australian Open doubles tilt at Melbourne Park on Thursday alongside 29-year-old Queenslander John-Patrick Smith, with the pair facing New Zealand’s Marcus Daniell and Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands in the first round.

      Lleyton Hewitt will be in action in the men’s doubles on Thursday.Credit:AAP

      The former world No.1’s continuing involvement in men’s doubles three years after he ended a decorated singles career was one of the main grievances raised by Bernard Tomic in his savage takedown of the Davis Cup captain on Monday night.

      "Literally, if he is retired, why is he still in tennis? Why do you play these doubles tournaments?" asked Tomic, who also questioned why Hewitt had played himself in a doubles rubber of a Davis Cup tie against Austria in Graz last September.

      Sydneysider Thompson, who like Australian No.1 Alex de Minaur is working closely with Hewitt as a coach and mentor, defended the two-time major winner’s doubles appearances.

      "We made the semi-finals [in Sydney last week] and came within a whisker of making the final. I don’t see what the problem is with him still playing," Thompson said after 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 defeat in his singles second-round match against Italy’s Andreas Seppi.

      "A semi-final is not a bad result. I’m thankful that I played with him because it was a good result."

      Asked whether Hewitt’s inclusion in the draw as a wildcard was denying other emerging players opportunities, Thompson replied: "Some people can think that but I don’t see what the problem is."

      As Australia’s most successful player this century, Hewitt remains a drawcard for Tennis Australia, who assert that he never actually retired from doubles.

      TA says Hewitt can also play Davis Cup as a player according to the rules, which he did in Austria when Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis were unavailable and John Millman was ill.

      Under fire: Lleyton Hewitt was attacked by Bernard Tomic.Credit:AAP

      Thompson was originally set to partner Australia’s top doubles player John Peers in Graz but after falling to a 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 defeat to world No.8 Dominic Thiem in the opening singles rubber, Hewitt stepped in and replaced him. Hewitt and Peers went on to win a tough four-set match against defending Australian Open champion Oliver Marach and Jurgen Melzer.

      "I played day one, it didn’t go that well," Thompson recalled of the Austria tie, won by the hosts. "I can’t really remember how it went."

      The 24-year-old distanced himself from Tomic’s feud with Hewitt and claims of further unrest in the Australian men’s tennis ranks.

      "I think we’re a tight-knit group," Thompson said. "I really only hang out with Australians. There are a few other guys from other countries but generally I hang out with mostly Aussies. They’ve become some of my good mates. It’s good travelling with them.

      "I just try what I need to do, not worry about this other business. At the end of the day, we’re all just trying to play tennis."

      Of Hewitt’s influence on his career, he said: "He is very good to me. He’s been there a lot. I appreciate it."

      Peers was also keeping his cards close to his chest when asked about the Davis Cup debate. Peers and his Finnish doubles partner Henri Kontinen won through to the second round after their opponents retired in the second set.

      "To be honest, I’m focused on the Australian Open this week and the Davis Cup will take care of itself after, so my focus is on the tournament right now," he said. "I’ve only played under Lleyton so I’ve got no experience with any other captain."

      Hewitt and Smith stand to share in at least $21,000, the prizemoney for first-round doubles losers, at the Australian Open. The tournament winners will collect $750,000 between them.

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      Would YOU split the bill with in-laws?

      Mother is left furious after being made to split the bill after a boozy dinner even though she only drank water – but do YOU think it was unfair?

      • Mother was furious when she was made to split the bill despite not drinking
      • She explained the extra cost meant she paid far more than she would have done  
      • Mumsnet users were divided on how restaurant bills should be divided in groups

      A mother was left furious after she was made to split the bill following an alcohol-fuelled dinner even though she didn’t drink. 

      A British Mumsnet user bemoaned the fact that she and her husband were forced to share the cost of the meal equally, despite racking up a fraction of the cost of the four other diners – their daughter, son-in-law and his parents – who all had cocktails.

      She explained it meant she and her husband both ended up paying more than double the cost of the food they ordered.

      The problem divided fellow users, with some claiming it was unfair – while others pointed out it was a family meal and accused her of being ‘petty’ for complaining.  

      A mother divided Mumsnet users after asking if it’s fair to split the bill evenly when dining with family despite choosing items that cost less than others (file image) 

      The mother outlined in her post that she and her husband chose to drink only water throughout their family meal meanwhile everyone else had multiple alcoholic drinks 

      A user speaking under the handle ‘E20mom’ said: ‘If you’re not happy to just split the bill then I wouldn’t go on the meal. It ruins it when someone gets all funny about the bill at the end.’

      Another added: ‘It’s a family event, it seems petty to add up whose pudding cost more. 

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      ‘Think of it as paying one sixth of the bill each for a good night out with good company rather than individual items off the menu. 

      ‘Or dine by yourselves so you can be sure it can’t happen again.’

      A flood of responses to the thread accused the mother of being unreasonable and claimed it ruins the occasion if someone makes a fuss over the bill 

      Others argued it’s unreasonable to be expected to cover the cost of alcoholic drinks as often the beverages can be just as pricey as the food. 

      One person wrote: ‘My husband is a non drinker, always has been. I haven’t drunk for years. I would not be impressed to be expected to subsidise others.

      ‘Also that kind of thinking (evenly splitting) doesn’t make it very easy on people who would go out and order the cheapest item on the menu so they can afford to spend the night with friends and family.’ 

      Another said: ‘Non drinkers should not subsidise drinkers. Often the alcohol costs as much as the food. It’s up to the drinkers to insist on paying their fair share.’

      Others agreed with the mother, arguing it sours the night having to pay more than necessary and non drinkers shouldn’t be expected to pay for alcohol 

      A number of people told the mother to suck up having to split the bill on this occasion but to make an effort to avoid the situation happening again.

      One person wrote: ‘In future ask for separate bills, it can be done. I cannot bear penny pinching over bills, I have watched people tip out their purses to get enough 2ps and 1ps to pay for what they had… then refuse to tip the waitress claiming they have no money.

      ‘If you can’t afford to go for a meal… don’t go. I would have spoken up actually about the drinks, because you only drank water so should have had to pay for their drinks.’ 

      A number of Mumsnet users told the mother to suck it up but to voice their thoughts on splitting the bill before dining next time 

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      Prosecutors intend to appeal acquittal of ex Ivory Coast leader Gbagbo: filing

      THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court said on Wednesday they intend to appeal the acquittal of former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo, but cannot do so yet as judges have not issued their full reasoning.

      Judges at the Hague war crimes court on Tuesday said prosecutors had failed to prove Gbagbo had any case to answer and ordered his release after more than seven years in detention.

      Prosecutors stated their intention to eventually appeal the acquittal in a filing submitted ahead of a hearing to discuss the terms of Gbagbo’s release.

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      Jude Law and Leonardo DiCaprio make list of 'smallest penises in Hollywood' – while Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor are 'most hung'

      The acting superstars have been included in a list of the "10 Smallest Penises in Hollywood", compiled by Mr Man, a database for male celebrity nude scenes.

      Experts at the website viewed 8,000 full frontal scenes before announcing the 10 tiniest and 10 biggest stars in Tinseltown.Talented Mr Ripley star Jude, 46, has got his kit off for seven movie roles during his career – while Leo, 44, stripped off for only one movie – Total Eclipse.

      Brit star Tom Hardy, 41, also made the 'short' list, after stripping off for a whopping 10 movie roles – including Colditz, Scenes of a Sexual Nature and Bronson.

      Shia LaBeouf, who starred in some steamy sex scenes in Nymphomaniac Vol I and Vol II, is also one of the 'smaller' of his acting peers.

      Jude Law lets it all hang out in this bath scene from The Talented Mr Ripley

      Smallest willies in Hollywood (in no particular order)

      Leonardo DiCaprio
      Jude Law
      Tom Hardy
      Terrence Howard
      Dennis Hopper
      Eric Balfour
      Kevin Heffernan
      Geoffrey Rush
      Shia LaBeouf
      Eric Stoltz

      Other "smaller" stars include Terrence Howard, Dennis Hopper, Kevin Heffernan, Eric Stoltz and Geoffrey Rush.

      At the other end of the spectrum, Colin Farrell, 42, Ewan McGregor, 47, and Liam Neeson, 66, make the 10 "Biggest Penises in Hollywood" list.

      Gone Girl actor Ben Affleck, 46, who has done six full frontal nudity scenes and veteran star Robert De Niro, 75, also join the well-hung club.

      The Meet the Parents and Godfather star has had four nude movie scenes – but has kept his clothes on since starring as the monster in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in 1994.

      "We may never know how cold it was on set that day, or whether they just went for a swim, but our list of guys proves that good things come in small packages," a representative for the site told Sun Online.

      "Mr Man, the world's most popular database for male celebrity nude scenes, is revealing the ten actors in Tinseltown who are more grow-ers than show-ers.

      "After sorting through more than 8,000 full frontal pics for their database, the Mr. Man team have become the consummate experts on the subject."

      She added: "Mr Man loves all shapes and sizes – and as these men have no trouble in the dating department so it shows size really doesn't matter."

      Mr Man was launched in 2004 by the firm behind Mr Skin, a website dedicated to female nude scenes – which was made famous in the movie Knocked Up.

      Jim McBride, the site's creator said at the time: "Traditionally movies were written, directed and owned by men, so the nudity was mostly female.

      "Now society has changed and it's a different era where it's totally acceptable for guys to do nude scenes."

      Biggest willies in Hollywood (in no particular order)

      • Colin Farrell
      • Ewan McGregor
      • Javier Bardem
      • Vincent Gallo
      • Robert De Niro
      • Ben Affleck
      • Omar Epps
      • Jason Segel
      • Liam Neeson
      • Michael Fassbender

      We previously told how a woman revealed her boyfriend’s 8.5inch penis caused them to break up – because having sex was so "hard".

      Meanwhile Katie Price's fitness instructor boyfriend Kris Boyson left very little to the imagination recently when he was snapped in his underwear on holiday in Thailand last year.

      According to the “Am I Normal?” study, 5.16 inches (13.1cm) is the average length of a penis when erect. Just five per cent of erect penises are bigger than 6.3 inches (16cm) long.


      Book a holiday from £9.50 with The Sun!

      FANCY getting away from it all?

      Our Hols from £9.50 are back!

      This means you could book a break at one of 333 holiday parks across the UK and abroad, for under a tenner!

      All you need to do is collect TEN Sun Savers codes or TEN tokens or codewords printed in The Sun. This round is running between Saturday, January 5 and Tuesday, January 29.

      If you’re collecting Sun Savers codes: ENTER YOUR CODES HERE

      If you're collecting tokens or codewords use the booking form or book online at thesun.co.uk/holidays

      • Price per person based on four sharing. Subject to availability. Terms and conditions and date restrictions apply. For full T&Cs see thesun.co.uk/holidays.

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      Louise Redknapp shows off chin scar from horror fall on boozy night out with pals

      The singer, 44, wore a racy lace bodysuit as she helped pal Lara celebrate turning another year older.

      Louise shared the pic of herself posing with Lara at the venue.

      She wrote: "Happy birthday my beautiful friend thank you for being an amazing friend love u 💜 @laraakka"

      And Louise wasn't the only celeb at the bash – Blue singer Lee Ryan was also in attendance, and he even got up and sang.

      Louise shared a pic of Lee performing, captioning the snap: "When ur mates are so talented!"

      Her big night out comes after the Strictly star suffered a deep gash on her chin and a fractured left wrist after tumbling on her way to rehearsals in London’s West End last week.

      After urgent treatment she was told she could not work for at least two months.

      It means the devastated ex-Eternal singer will miss the musical’s opening night of  9 To 5 The Musical— attended by country superstar Dolly, who starred in the 1980 movie — as well as weeks of performances.

      A source close to Louise said: “It happened on the way to rehearsals on Tuesday morning.

      "She just fell over in the street.

      “She went to hospital and had stitches. Then doctors told her she needs time out and can’t do the show.

      “She is obviously completely devastated because this is a dream role for her. It doesn’t seem fair.”

      Last Wednesday, heartbroken Louise was pictured leaving her home to tell show bosses the situation.

      9 To 5 The Musical will have its first preview at the Savoy Theatre as planned on 28 January 2019.

      Book a holiday from £9.50 with The Sun!

      FANCY getting away from it all?

      Our Hols from £9.50 are back!

      This means you could book a break at one of 333 holiday parks across the UK and abroad, for under a tenner!

      All you need to do is collect TEN Sun Savers codes or TEN tokens or codewords printed in The Sun. This round is running between Saturday, January 5 and Tuesday, January 29.

      If you’re collecting Sun Savers codes: ENTER YOUR CODES HERE

      If you're collecting tokens or codewords use the booking form or book online at thesun.co.uk/holidays

      • Price per person based on four sharing. Subject to availability. Terms and conditions and date restrictions apply. For full T&Cs see thesun.co.uk/holidays.

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      Jeremy Clarkson, 58, says he's 'a lot fatter since quitting smoking' as he looks loved up with girlfriend Lisa Hogan, 46, at The Grand Tour launch

      The 58-year-old posed up with his 46-year-old partner as they joined James May and Richard Hammond on the red carpet at London’s The Brewery.

      The car lovers are launching the third series of their Amazon show and were their usual jovial selves.

      According to the Mail Online Jeremy joked that he had put on weight after giving up smoking.

      He said: “I’m a lot fatter. I gave up smoking, anyone here given up smoking? Anyone else get fat, like unbelievably fat, as a result of it? It’s just terrifying.”

      James replied: “So, why were you fat when you were smoking?”

      Hitting back, Jeremy added: “Same reason as you James, same reason as you. Exhibit A, the smoker James May.”

      James and Lisa went public with their romance in February 2017.

      It is Jeremy’s first relationship since his marriage to second wife Frances Cain ended in divorce in 2014.

      The TV star has three children from his marriage to Frances, and Lisa is mum to three kids with her former husband Baron Steven Bentinck.

      Lisa separated from her former husband in 2005.

      Jeremy recently revealed that his girlfriend has told him off for being horrible to the guests on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire – which he now hosts.

      Writing in his Sunday Times column, he said:  “I always said if I'd been in Tarrant's shoes, I'd snarl and snap at hopeless contestants for wasting everyone else's evening.

      “I tried it on the first show and afterwards my girlfriend was cross with me because I'd been "horrid".”

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      Kate Moss proves her relationship with Nikolai von Bismarck is back on track as she celebrates 45th birthday party with him and celeb friends

      The supermodel rang in the big day on Tuesday evening with her partner at China Tang at The Dorchester, London.

      She was also joined by fashion-designer pal Stella McCartney who uploaded a sweet snap of the pair with the caption: "To one of my oldest finest funniest friends… happy happy birthday. I love you xxx"

      Mates actress Sadie Frost, Liv Tyler, British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury were also spotted leaving the bash to mark her 45th birthday, which falls today.

      It comes after The Sun's Bizarre column revealed on Monday that Count Nikolai risked Kate’s wrath after cosying up to a ­mystery woman dressed as a nun at Georgia May Jagger's birthday party last Saturday.

      Adding fuel to the fire, he was also seen knocking back alcohol — despite now being teetotal.


      An insider said: “It was a ­raucous, vampire-themed party with loads of celebs there.

      “Nikolai was having a great time. He wore fancy dress to look like The Joker from ­Batman and was ­getting very close with a woman who was dressed up as a nun. They were flirting and ­dancing together — and to make matters worse, he was knocking back cans of booze.

      “He didn’t seem to have a care in the world and was hardly acting like someone in a long-term relationship.

      “Kate has done a lot to ­support him in his sobriety, so it’s not great news.


      “But soft drinks were served via a tap and alcohol was in cans, so there was no confusion about what he was drinking.”

      The socialite has been dating Kate on and off for three years.

      Last September, Kate celebrated 12 months sober after giving up alcohol to support her other half.

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