By Jonathon Van Maren
Back in December, I spoke with Polish pro-life leader Jakub Baltroszewicz, who detailed how radical leftists were utilizing the outrage over the Constitutional Court’s decision to ban abortion in the case of fetal defects or abnormalities to launch a progressive political revolution. Abortion groups worldwide are trumpeting the protests as the fury of a repressed people finally venting in the streets, but there is more to the story.
As it turns out, the masses of protestors swarming churches and packing Poland’s major cities do not represent the silent majority, despite their renewed efforts with the ban on eugenic abortion coming into effect. According to Agent France-Presse (AFP), reporting from Warsaw, “the devout Catholic country is far from turning pro-choice.” In fact, over the past several decades, Poles have become more supportive of restrictive abortion laws rather than less.
As Baltroszewicz explained, Poland adopted a strict abortion regime after the fall of Communism in 1993, a church-state compromise that banned abortion in all cases except for rape, incest, when the mother’s life is in danger, or in the case of fetal anomaly—and it was those abortions which the top court ruled unconstitutional.
But Adam Szostkiewicz, a political commentator, told AFP that the protests do not represent deep-seated dissatisfaction with a pro-life regime. “We’re seeing a surprising mobilisation of the younger generation in particular in these protests. And in that group, support for a more liberal law is growing — but that’s not the majority. The majority had been silent for years, holding the belief that if the Church says so and politicians don’t question it, then evidently that’s just how it must be.”
A poll by Kantar pollsters in November, the AFP reported, indicated that a mere 22% of Poles favour abortion on demand, while 62% believe it should only be legal in certain cases (11% favor a total ban.) In part, sociologist Katarzyna Zielinski told the AFP, this is due to the fact that “there was no sexual revolution in Poland. On the contrary, we had a religious renewal, because the mobilisation against the communist regime was associated with religion.” Conversely, abortion rates were high under Communist rule.
Interestingly, in 1992 a full 47% of Poles believed that abortion should be legal for financial reasons, as well—but by 2016, only 14% of Poles still felt that way. Despite the current narrative that Poland is rapidly becoming pro-abortion, the reverse has been true for a quarter century, with pro-life sentiment steadily growing. Some commentators believe that the law has shaped these views, but it is difficult to say if pro-life sentiment has been the impetus for new pro-life laws or vice versa.
As encouraging as Poland’s pro-life majority is, there is still reason for concern. Vocal minorities can achieve legislative change through sustained protest due to the fact that silent majorities are just that—silent. This is precisely how abortion was legalized in many countries around the world, and it is why the massive pro-life protests taking place across Latin and South America pushing back against abortion activists are so encouraging. Politicians respond to pressure, and when only one side is pushing, they often get what they want.
It is time for the pro-life majority to speak up.