Polish women working in Jewish organizations join strike over proposed tightened abortion law

Katarzyna Markusz

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – Polish women working for Jewish organizations joined other women in striking their jobs over proposed changes in the law on family planning in the country.

Thousands of women in many cities throughout Poland held protests on “Black Monday” in opposition to stricter anti-abortion legislation proposed by an independent group that would forbid all pregnancy termination. Under Polish law, abortion is only permitted now in cases of rape, incest or a threat to the mother’s health, or when the baby is likely to be permanently handicapped.

Half of the women employed in full-time jobs at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews did not come to work on Monday. The museum reportedly functioned normally, with only minor difficulties in reaching the institution by telephone.

Workers and employees of the Jewish Theatre also joined the strike. They published on Facebook a photograph with a note: “What differentiates us is age, gender, life experience and views on many issues. In this one we agree. Today, we, the workers and employees of the Jewish Theatre, join the Black Protest.” The offices of the Center for Yiddish Culture, which is part of the theater, also were closed due to the strike.

The protest was supported by the JCC in Warsaw and Krakow. Jonathan Ornstein, director of the Krakow JCC, stressed that the new law being proposed is unfair and wrong and does not respect a woman’s right to control her own body.

“JCC Krakow is guided by tikkun olam, the responsibility we all share to repair the world, and it is clear to us that we must stand up against the proposed changes,” he told JTA.

Because of Rosh Hashanah activities, the JCC could not close its building. Male employees replaced female employees and volunteers. A similar situation occurred in the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow.