Up to 6 million women all over Poland went on strike, dressed in black and took to the streets on Monday 3 October to protest against the government’s plans for a total ban on abortions.

They proclaimed the day “Black Monday” whilst counter-demonstrators and anti-abortion protestors, dressed in white, also marched to distinguish themselves as opposition.

Poland’s abortion laws are amongst the strictest in Europe. Women are only allowed to have lawful abortion if the pregnancy is a result of incest or rape, or if the life of the woman or foetus is under threat.

Under the proposed new bill, written by an organisation called Stop Abortion, those exceptions would not longer exist. Women having an abortion unlawfully would risk a five year prison sentence. Doctors could also be sentenced to prison if found guilty of performing an abortion.

The protests swept through 90 Polish cities. The Warsaw mayor’s office said 24,000 people took to the streets of the capital to draw attention to the proposed new restrictions.

Many employers, including restaurant owners, museum and gallery directors, the deans of several universities and mayors of at least 2 cities allowed employees to take the day off to protest.

Solidarity protests were also staged in other European cities, including Berlin, Brussels, London, Paris and Barcelona.

Poland introduced its restrictive abortion law, known as the “abortion compromise” after the collapse of Communism.

If the new bill is passed the law would make Poland one of the world’s most restrictive nations on abortion. Only a few countries completely prohibit abortion. The only two European states that ban abortion are The Vatican and Malta. The other countries having similar laws are Latin America and the Caribbean: Chile, Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

A sad day for Poland!