Mobilisation, Protest, and Resistance Against Reproductive Rights Restrictions in Poland


  • Joanna Mishtal


Parole chiave:

Gender, Reproductive governance, Abortion politics, Individualised resistance, Poland


This paper examines Polish women’s use of the clandestine abortion underground and online networking as a form of resistance developed in response to severe reproductive rights restrictions in Poland since 1993. Rather than complying with the abortion ban, imposed unilaterally by postsocialist state and the Catholic church, Polish women’s response has been to develop their own coping strategies to control fertility, including circumventing the legislation by pursuing illegal abortions and sharing this knowledge on the Internet. Based on long-term ethnographic research in Poland and an analysis of online discussion forums, I argue that this individualised and privatised form of resistance is a limited stopgap strategy for dealing with larger social and collective concerns about reproductive rights, health, as well as gender equality that should be addressed with collective policy solutions. Moreover, I consider these “anti-political” strategies in the context of the 2016 and 2018 mass protests to halt proposals for total abortion bans, and raise questions about the impact of different forms of mobilisation and resistance on reproductive rights and policies.






Special Focus. Contested Terrain. Abortion at Intersection of Rights, Health and Law