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Anna Kowalczyk Derlęga
Anna Kowalczyk Derlęga ©Ania Liesting

Polish Women

Abortion is a choice of the woman and man, not of the church, not of politicians

Anna Kowalczyk Derlęga (52) en Krzysztof Niciejewski, Working for OSK (Women’s Strike in Poland) and activist partners 

Krzysztof Niciejewski and I have been involved with KOD (Komitet Obrony Demokracji – Committee for Defense of Democracy) since 2015. Since the foundation of the Polish Women’s Strike, I have also been active in OSK (Ogólnopolski Strajk Kobiet – Women’s Strike). Krzysztof and I do our activities together, but we are activist partners, not life partners. Krzysztof has a wife and two children, I have a husband and a son. We see each other more than our families. We spend 100 days a year on the streets doing activities. The revolution is eating its children and activism is very difficult for our families. Suddenly we are more away from home than at home.

Most activists are mentally exhausted, some of us are in therapy, we have PTSD. We have to help each other, we realize that what we do makes sense. Awareness and involvement increases. The number of people who already know that politics has a direct impact on their lives is constantly growing. This is due to the tireless activities of many, many brave people. For example, support for abortion has now risen from 30% in the first attempt to liberalize the law, to 70% now after our years of protests. My body, my choice, that’s what it’s all about. The current signature collection campaigns within the framework of the liberalization project ‘legal abortion without compromise’ evokes positive reactions. People hear the word abortion, take action and sign up. There are fewer and fewer opponents, but they are becoming more and more aggressive. Most often we have to deal with verbal attacks, but unfortunately physical attacks are also becoming more common. We notice this on the street during our signature collection campaigns, when we talk to people.

People are beginning to understand that abortion is a choice, and that only the individual can decide whether or not to get pregnant. Not the church, not the politicians. Abortion was, is and will remain. The current drastic law segregates. Everyone knows how to do it and how much it costs, but not everyone can afford to go abroad. This makes abortion stronger underground. That is at the expense of women. Abortion should be legal, it is a medical procedure that everyone should be able to choose safely and legally. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case in Poland. Especially in small towns and villages, women are in a difficult financial situation and have a low social status.

I took to the streets for fear of my son.

I took to the streets for fear of my son. Poland was a country where my son had the opportunity to develop. I want him to live in a free, democratic European country. PiS started taking my wish for my son away from me. People react differently to my activism. I come from a small town and I was surprised when the people there showed me their support, especially those who seemed to favor PiS. However, some friends and relatives disagree with me. Much has changed. We have met new people, made new friends, but also lost friends. I think a cultural revolution has swept through Poland in recent years. The attack on the freedom of self-determination has angered many people in Poland. I have a girlfriend, she has never been politically active. I was surprised to see her on the street during a nighttime action in front of the cathedral. She felt she had to do something. It means our struggle makes sense. It is important that what happens in Poland is also shown abroad. We demand democracy. The protests were often featured in the international media. Many countries have offered to help us with abortion. Write about us and show that it is not Poles and the inhabitants of Poland, but a minority of PiS. Support our organizations financially, we do not have to count on state subsidies. They go to fascist militias and religious fanatics. We must count on the help of democratic international organizations

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