10 badass pics from Poland’s massive protest in support of abortion rights.

Gabriela, a 41-year-old mom from Warsaw, Poland, has had enough of her country's outdated abortion laws.

And she's far from the only person in Poland feeling that way.

Photo by Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images.


"I am doing it for my daughter," she told The Independent about skipping work to join the peaceful protest that ended up catching the entire world's attention.

Photo by Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images.

Gabriela was one of thousands making a ruckus on Oct. 3, 2016, to stand up for abortion rights in Poland.

Photo by Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images.

Dressed in dark clothing to commemorate what was dubbed "Black Monday," people took to the streets — in Poland and around the world — to protest a proposed new measure that would outlaw abortion nationally.

Not certain types of abortions or abortions only after a given number of weeks — all abortions.

Photo by Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images.

Protesters wore black in reference to mourning the rights they'd lose should the new measure become law.

How could such a drastic law even be on the table?

After an anti-choice petition began picking up steam — garnering 450,000 signatures — Poland's conservative party in power, called Law and Justice, used the effort to justify making moves to further restrict abortion access by banning the procedure altogether.

Photo by Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images.

Legal abortion in predominantly-Catholic Poland is already extremely rare. It's banned, except for when a woman's life is in danger, the fetus is damaged, or in cases of rape or incest.

All of those "except for" instances would be slashed under the new measure. Abortion would be illegal — period.

The new measure wouldn't prevent abortions from happening, of course — they'd just make them much less safe.

Women get abortions, whether or not they're permissible. Study after study has shown this to be true. Ending abortion care would only make life in Poland more dangerous for people who become pregnant but don't wish to become a parent.

One study out of Texas — a state that's seen a steady drop in abortion clinics in recent years — found that, unsurprisingly, self-induced (and riskier) abortion was more common among women who had difficulty accessing reproductive services. As more clinics close, more people fall into this category.

Photo by Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images.

In Poland, there were only 1,000 legal abortions last year, yet estimates suggest about 100,000 abortions were carried out illegally or by Polish women who left the country so they could access care.

If Polish officials truly want to prevent abortions from happening, they should focus on methods that actually work, like expanding access to birth control and prioritizing sex education in schools.  

This Ukrainian activist's sign reads "I am for the right of women to decide for themselves." Photo by Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images.

The new measure in Poland might seem far-fetched to some Americans watching from afar, but things could change dramatically here after Nov. 8, too.

GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has suggested women should be "punished" for getting an abortion. His running mate, Indiana governor Mike Pence, wants Roe v. Wade — the landmark Supreme Court decision guaranteeing a woman's right to choose — "consigned to the ash heap of history, where it belongs."

A conservative U.S. Congress probably wouldn't do much to stop a Trump administration's war on women's rights either.

Photo by Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images.

We don't have to wait until 2017 to see how the elimination of abortion access could affect American women — we already have the evidence.

Since 2010, 38 states have passed over 300 new abortion restrictions, according to The Guardian. Dozens of abortion clinics, predominantly in the South, West, and Midwest, have closed their doors. This has led to more unsafe abortions and a rise in horror stories medical providers report regularly from women who've lost access to care.

Photo by Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images.

“These are stories of desperation, not empowerment,” Sarah Roberts, a University of California at San Francisco researcher who's studied the effects of abortion clinic closures, told The Guardian. “These are stories of women going into their medicine cabinets and using things that are in there, or stories of women using illegal drugs, in the hopes that it will end their pregnancies.”

It's a dark reality many Polish women know all too well, and on Black Monday, they refused to stay silent.

The Black Monday strike made waves across dozens of Polish communities, which were essentially forced to shut down due to the protests.

Schools and offices were shuttered in over 60 cities throughout the country, as protesters forced Poland to come to a grinding halt. As you might imagine, it's difficult to carry on business as usual when half the population is preoccupied demanding they be treated like human beings capable of making their own medical decisions.

Photo by Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images.

It appears protesters' message struck a chord with the Polish people as a whole too.

While the new restrictive measure was already unpopular, a new poll out on Black Monday showed the anti-abortion initiative is taking a toll on the conservative party in power that's pressing for the new law's passing: Public support for the Law and Justice party dipped to a new low of just 29% according to one poll. The anti-abortion effort is certainly a factor.

"I am very happy," Elzbieta Turczynska, a protester in Waraw, told the Associated Press. "I treat it as the end of some era, hopefully a very short one, but a really dangerous one for us."

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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