Mass Protests Yield a Major Victory for Women's Rights in Poland

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Polish women protest against a legislative proposal for a total ban on abortion in Poland, during a demonstration near EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Oct. 3, 2016.
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"I'm a woman, not an incubator." That's the chant that thousands of women throughout Poland have been yelling this week. Their protests have been in response to a proposed total abortion ban, even in cases of rape or threats to the mother's life, which have been the only abortions allowed in Poland since 1993. The nation of 38 million has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe.

But conservative politicians there have abruptly reversed course in the country, and yesterday backed away from the ban. The protests "caused us to think and taught us humility," one politician said.

It's a major success for women like Agnieszka Graff, who has been at the center of the Polish women's movement for decades, helping shape it into one of the largest and most organized in Eastern Europe.

But Graff says that the demonstrations she participated in this week represent an entirely new generation of protesters, who can mobilize hundreds of thousands of young women with just a Facebook post.