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Women Flood Polish Prime Minister's Facebook With Vivid Menstruation Descriptions to Protest Abortion Ban

Meme with the slogan: “Not your brooch!” It's a Polish idiom meaning “Mind your own business”. Prime Minister Beata Szydło is widely known for her taste is huge, extravagant brooches.

Meme reads, “Not your brooch!”—a Polish idiom meaning “Mind your own business.” Prime Minister Beata Szydło is widely known for her taste is huge, extravagant brooches. Meme by Michał Rafał Gortat, Photo by Piotr Grzybowski, used with permission.

Less than a week ago, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło, a member of the nationalist government formed by the Law and Justice Party, voiced her support for a parliamentary bill calling for a complete ban on abortion. Poland's laws currently regulating the procedure are already widely regarded to be among Europe's most restrictive, allowing abortions only if “the pregnancy is the result of criminally proven incest or rape, or there is a danger to the woman’s life, or if the fetus is seriously malformed.”

Szydło's critics online have responded to her support for an even stricter abortion ban with ridicule and humor on social media. Just after midnight on April 4, using the double meaning of the term “period” (which exists in Polish, as it does in English), a Facebook event called “A Heavy Period for the Government” emerged, encouraging women to post detailed descriptions of their periods on the Prime Minister's official Facebook page, and write her letters and call her office. “The Polish government wants to control our uteri, ovaries, and pregnancies. Isn’t it nice that they care so much? Let us make it easier for them: let’s keep Prime Minister Mrs Beata Szydło informed about the details of our cycles,” wrote the organizers on the event page.

Poles responded in droves. For instance, just one of the posts from her official Facebook page has over 4.5 thousands comments, many marked with the hashtag #TrudnyOkres (“Heavy Period”). Several examples follow:

Malina Prześluga-Delimata: Szanowna Pani Premier Beato, informuję, że mój cykl przebiega w porządku. Okres dostałam punktualnie (cykl trwa 31 dni), pierwszego dnia bolało tak jak zawsze (na czworakach do domu i termofor) ale potem poszło gładko i już jestem po:) Dni płodne mam za jakieś 5-6 dni, ale wyjeżdżam z Polski na tydzień i nie będziemy się z mężem widzieć przez całą owulację. Dziękuję, że rząd tak bardzo interesuje się mną i moim potencjałem rozrodczym, fantastycznie jest wiedzieć, że za moment będę mogła zrzucić odpowiedzialność za mój rozród na kogoś innego. Będę informować na bieżąco. #TrudnyOkres

Malina Prześluga-Delimata: Dear Prime Minister Beata, I inform [you] that my menstrual cycle is going great. I got my period on time (my cycle lasts 31 days). On the first day, it hurt as usual (I crawled back to my house and used a thermophore), but it went smoothly from there and now it's over :)My fertile days will start in 5-6 days time, but I leave Poland for a week and I won't be seeing my husband during the whole time! Thanks to the government for having such a huge interest in my reproductive potential, it's so great to know that this massive responsibility for my procreation can finally be somebody else's business. I will keep you updated #HeavyPeriod

Urszula Łobodzińska: Szanowna Pani Premier! Spóźnia mi się okres. Może to już ten czas! Nie mam żadnych dochodów i będę samotną matką, więc kwalifikuję się na program 500+. Czy to znaczy, że 500 zł będzie mi wypłacane co miesiąc od momentu połączenia się żeńskiej i męskiej komórki rozrodczej? Czy, jeśli poronię 500 zł zostanie mi wypłacone za wszystkie miesiące ciąży? #TrudnyOkres

Urszula Łobodzińska: Dear Mrs Prime Minister, my period is late. Maybe the time has come? I don't have any income and I will be a single mother so maybe I might qualify for the 500+ program? Does it mean that I would be getting my 500 zl for every month of pregnancy, since the union of the egg cell and the sperm cell? If I miscarry, would I still be paid for all the months of pregnancy? #HeavyPeriod

The 500+ program is a government program, paying families with more than one child—regardless of their financial status—additional 500 zl (around 135 USD) on a monthly basis. Single parents with one child do not qualify as beneficiaries in this scheme. The proposed anti-abortion bill defines the union of the egg cell and the sperm cell as the moment the human being begins (with all legal consequences of killing a human implied).

Marcin Kozłowski: Szanowna Pani Premier!
Czy troska Rządu i Episkopatu o narządy rozrodcze obywateli obejmuje też mężczyzn? Czy powinniśmy przesyłać na ręce Pani Premier okresowe raporty z rodzaju noszonej bielizny (podobno za ciasne slipy mogą prowadzić do obniżenia płodności) i rozliczać się z niewykorzystanych prawidłowo do prokreacji plemników? Czy formularz protokołu zniszczenia towaru będzie odpowiedni? I czy wystarczy wysyłać go mailem czy raczej tradycyjną pocztą na adres Kancelarii Premiera oraz Sekretariatu Konferencji Episkopatu Polski za potwierdzeniem odbioru? #TrudnyOkres

Reply: Magda Ostaszewska: To są bardzo ważne pytania. Myślę, że powinien Pan je wysłać oficjalnym listem za potwierdzeniem odbioru. Termin odpowiedzi na zapytanie obywatela wynosi zdaje się 30 dni.

Marcin Kozłowski: Mrs Prime Minister, does the deep concern for reproductive organs of the citizens, showed by the government and the Episcopacy, also include men? Shouldn't we start to file with you some kind of reports on the kind of underwear we use (supposedly too tight underpants may lead to lower fertility), shouldn't we be held accountable for the semen not used for procreation's purposes? Would the form for “destruction of the merchandise” be applicable? Can we send it by email or in a traditional way, by mail? Should we send it to Your office or maybe to the Episcopacy's adress, with acknowledgement of receipt? #HeavyPeriod

Reply: Magda Ostaszewska: These are some very important questions. I think you, sir, should send them the traditional way, with acknowledgement of receipt. The reply period is around 30 days.

Anna Dryjańska: Szanowna Pani Premier, w ramach ułatwienia Pani zarządzania moją macicą, pragnę udostępnić Pani aplikację na smartfona, w której zaznaczam kiedy mam okres. Dzięki temu będzie Pani cały czas na bieżąco. W razie potrzeby udostępnię dane również ginekologom z episkopatu. Proszę o kontakt na priv. ♥ #trudnyokres

Anna Dryjańska: Dear Prime Minister, to make it easier for you to manage my uterus, I want to share with you the app I use to mark every time that I get a period. It will keep you updated all the time. I can also share it with the gynecologists from the Episcopacy. Just send me a private message. ♥ #HeavyPeriod

The campaign took its inspiration from a similar action undertaken by women in the US state of Indiana, who started trolling Governor's Pence office last week with detailed calls about their periods, to protest a restrictive abortion bill.

In less than a day, several thousand comments were left on the Prime Minister Beata Szydło's page (and their number is still rising), gaining the immediate attention of the Polish media. The hashtag #TrudnyOkres (Heavy Period) peaked also on Twitter, with hundreds of users describing their menstrual hardships by tagging Mrs Szydło's official Twitter profile, as well.

Twitter user @a_meba wrote:

Dear @BeataSzydlo/@EpiskopatNews: I always squirm in pain, but during this period I felt nothing. Am I sinning?

@Julian82Nowak wrote:

Seems as if lately it's a #HeavyPeriod for the government

@Hydrochoreus wrote:

A #GoodChange* resulted in the #HeavyPeriod [“a good change” was the main slogan in the Law and Justices parliamentarian elections campaign]

Various other image memes circulated widely and anonymously online, including the following example:

Bloody mondays!!!

The ultimate goal of this action? Organizers said it was all about helping the prime minister choke on her own words: “Let’s give them what they really ask for: full control over our reproductive organs and full insight into our femininity. And make them have a really HEAVY PERIOD.”

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