After thousands of women in Poland protested and went on strike from their jobs and schools on Monday, Poland’s governing party has voted against a proposal that would have effectively outlawed all abortions in the country.
The law would have banned abortion even in cases of rape, incest, and when a woman’s life is in danger.
“It is hard to reconcile with this kind of treatment of women. It can’t be like that, we have entered the 21st century but mentally we are in the Middle Ages. This is absolutely unacceptable,” Elzbieta Turczynska, one of the protesters, told The Associated Press.
Poland’s minister of science and education, Jaroslaw Gowin, told reporters Wednesday that the mass protests “caused us to think and taught us humility,” the Guardian reported. In a parliamentary commission vote Wednesday afternoon, the country’s lawmakers voted against the bill, but the country’s lower house of parliament will vote on the bill Thursday, where it could be returned to committee to be reviewed again.
Even without the measure, Poland has one of the world’s most restrictive abortion policies: Polish women are forced to seek abortions in neighboring countries, if they can afford to, except in instances of rape, incest, or where a woman’s life is in danger.
Within hours of the vote in Poland, the European Parliament debated the country’s abortion policies, with some arguing that the E.U. has no jurisdiction over a member state’s abortion policies. Others argued that it was a matter for the E.U. governing organization because abortion restrictions deprive women of their human right to healthcare.
Women in other countries, including the U.S., England, and Germany, demonstrated in solidarity with the Polish protesters this week.