Men - Stand Up For Women’s Reproductive Rights!
I moved to Warsaw, Poland, a few months ago, and I try to keep up with the state of the country as much as I can. On 22nd of October, a constitutional tribunal in Poland imposed a nearly total ban on abortions by ruling that abortions for fetal abnormalities violate the country’s constitution. The president of the tribunal justified the decision because aborting a pregnancy based on the health of the fetus leads to “a directly forbidden form of discrimination".
Abortion legislation was already strict in Poland, where women could only get abortions in cases of a threat to life, incest, rape or fetal abnormalities, the latter being the main cause for terminations in Poland. Therefore, making even this fourth case illegal is an effective ban on abortion, as just last year, 1074 of 1100 legal abortions performed in Poland were due to this*.
I am not going to get into detail as to why abortion should be legal, as there are tons of material you can read up on reproductive rights, which are written by women. The thing I would like to focus on is why men should be supporting women in their fight for reproductive rights and autonomy.
Women face constant threats to their body and bodily autonomy. The way they dress, their sexual activities, and being blamed for being sexually assaulted have always been a subject of debate – and it is mostly men who discuss and make judgements. Abortion is one of these challenges women face, especially women in Poland, and the crucial aspect of this challenge is that their lives are at stake. They have to carry a fetus with fetal abnormalities or an already dead fetus, both of which can kill the mother, not to mention the psychological aspects, with women being be forced to carry fetuses until full term**. This tribunal ruling is absolutely horrible, cruel and misogynistic, and it should be protested. This is what I want to focus on: being an ally as a man.
I would like for men to put themselves in women’s shoes here. Imagine you were being tortured for months. You know you could potentially die from this torture. And do you know what’s the most horrifying part of this scenario? The fact that the country you are a citizen of knows you are being tortured. They watch you go through it, all because stopping it would mean having to bury a dead fetus before a time they deem “right”. They even legalise it so doctors, medical professionals that we entrust with our lives, cannot perform an operation on you, regardless of whether it might mean you die. Can you imagine going through something like this? Personally, I can’t. What I also cannot imagine is someone telling me what I can or cannot do with my body.
With this in mind, if you, like me, want to protect the lives of women in Poland, you have to protest the Polish government. You have to join the protests happening in Poland if you can. The protests have reached a record number of nearly a hundred thousand people in the country’s capital Warsaw, but there can never be enough people, so we can make sure women’s voices are heard. If you don’t live in Poland, there are many things you can do. Share the news on your social media, inform people of what is going on here. You can donate to organisations*** helping women living in countries where abortion laws are problematic, so they can at least travel to other countries to have their pregnancies terminated.
Also, I want to ask men to support women by talking to other men who do not understand the grave consequences this ban can and will induce on women. Due systemic gender inequality, men are still more likely to hold positions of power both in society and in the workplace, but this also means they can actually make a big difference by using their power and privilege to support women in their fight for bodily autonomy. Even if you make one man understand and change his mind about why abortions should be legal, it is already a win! Remember, we can only fight the patriarchy effectively if we support each other, and women in Poland need all the support they can get right now.
Cenk Türkoglu is a guy who is trying to learn and support women in the fight for gender equality. Also writes, paints, annihilates atoms, etc. Cenk Türkoglu versucht über den Kampf für Geschlechtergleichstellung zu lernen und Frauen* zu unterstützen. Er schreibt, malt, vernichtet Atome etc.