What is Happening in Poland and Why?date: 2020-11-01

Since October 22, 2002 when the Polish Constitutional Tribunal issued its decision to further restrict already very restrictive anti-abortion law, Poland is witnessing continued mass demonstrations all over the country, from small to big cities, from town to villages. These spontaneous protests have been continuing since the day of decision and show no signs of abating. 


To explain what is happening, an independent panel of academics and lawyers has assembled to clarify the current legal situation, to analyze the scope of new anti-abortion restrictions, to explain whether this new law may be challenged under any of the EU laws applicable to Poland and what might be political implications of doing that, as well as offer a preliminary cultural, linguistic, anthropological, and sociological analysis of the recent events. Although some individuals who are JLS members helped in organizing the event, the webinar itself was not sponsored or organized by JLS.  We are providing the link to the webinar for those who may want to understand the current situation in Poland, but JLS takes no official position with respect to any of the issues that were discussed and analyzed. 



LINK to the webinar video:  https://youtu.be/jWlQMQuoes8


TABLE OF CONTENT of the Webinar 

Introduction, Bios of Speakers, Disclaimers: Beginning of the tape until approximately 3.17- minute mark on the tape



Elizabeth M. Zechenter, J.D., Ph.D. Approximately 3.17 minute until 26 minute mark. "October 2020 Abortion Decision by the Constitutional Tribunal: Analysis and Legal Implications"

Agnieszka Kubal, Ph.D. Approximately 26 minute until 46 minute mark. "Human Rights Implication of the Decision by the Polish Constitutional Tribunal from 22 October 2020"

Agnieszka Gaertner, J.D., LLM Approximately 46 minute until 59 minute mark. "Abortion Under EU Law"




Katarzyna Zechenter, Ph.D. Approximately 59 minute until 1hr. 31 minute mark. "Uses of Language by the Protesters, the Polish Catholic Church, and the Ruling Political Party “Law and Justice” (PiS)"



Joanna Regulska, Ph.D. Approximately 1 hr. 31 minute until 1.hr 49 minute mark. "Struggle for Womens Rights in Poland"

Helena Chmielewska-Szlajfer, Ph.D. Approximately 1 hr. 49 minute until 2hrs 12 minute mark. "Augmented Reality, Young Adults, and Civic Engagement"




 "Wow! That was, without a doubt, one of the most informative, fascinating, engaging, and powerful webinars I have ever attended."

"All of us in your virtual audience "voted with our feet" . . . i.e., it is generally considered that 90 minutes is an audience absolute maximum attention span for an online webinar, particularly since everyone these days is simply "Zoomed-out" (over-Zoomed), in this era of COVID-19. But YOUR audience stayed with you for a marathon 2 hours and 45 minutes (and it felt like a sprint, not a marathon)!"


"A high tribute to you and your sister (not fellow!) panelists."




The independent webinar was organized impromptu in response to numerous calls to analyze ongoing protests In Poland. The goal of the webinar was to provide a non-partisan review of the evolving situation and better understand the legal, cultural, and sociological underpinnings of the anti-abortion decision by the Constitutional Tribunal, a decision that resulted in such massive country-wide protests. 

This webinar was not organized or sponsored by JLS.  JLS is a non-partisan and non-sectarian organization. JLS strives to advance the rule of law and to promote human rights.  The opinions expressed in the webinar are those of the speakers alone who are not speaking as representatives of any institution, including JLS. The main goal has been to help understand the current situation.

Given the urgency to offer at least a preliminary analysis (and in light of the continuously evolving situation), most speakers had less than 24 hours to prepare their remarks. We apologize for any imperfections.

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