Is conservatism the new cool?
Better late than never: this week, New Zealand took a step towards decriminalizing abortion. If the bill passes through parliament, the country will join the US, Canada, China and most European countries in legalizing abortion. But still, in 2019, a measly 30 percent of the world’s countries allow the practice. Why does abortion still face so much resistance?
Receive this newsletter in your inbox
Our response to the news
One answer might be the adherence to traditional values. To investigate why abortion still faces resistance in Europe, our co-founder and editor Kyrill Hartog spoke to the Ordo Iurus Institute, an anti-abortion group that lobbies for stricter abortion laws in Poland, and uncovered a surprising fact: 75% of Poles under the age of 25 are against abortion. For some Polish women who grew up under Communism, where abortion was made legal as far back as 1956, this is a major step back. Yet, while it may seem contradictory, Poland has one of the lowest gender pay gaps in Europe. Read the article here to find out why.
So, does this mean conservatism is the “new cool”? Some signs seem to suggest so. In Russia, the youth is less critical of the government and tends to have a more conformist worldview than the national average. In a similar, albeit more radical way, the children of second and third generation immigrants in European countries may end up espousing more traditional (and less secular) values than their parents as they search for a sense of belonging. Similarly, the worldwide popularity of the strongman leader might be explained by the renewed appetite for tradition and stability in a world that seems to be spinning out of control.
But while conservatism may be enjoying a comeback, women’s rights are getting more attention and support than ever before—including in Poland. For our latest issue, Sonia Zhuravlyova spoke to Marta Lempart, a Polish lawyer whose efforts to legalize abortion sparked one of the largest protests the country has ever seen.
Increasingly conservative policies promoted by Poland’s right-wing government and the increasingly powerful Catholic church have stirred up a feminist and civil rights reawakening across the country. “PiS [Law and Justice, Poland’s largest party] were at our door,” says Lempart. “We knew we had to do something.”
Which side will win is unclear. Yet one thing is certain: in the battle between conservatives and progressives, between the old and the new, between preserving that which has been built up and changing that which could be improved, abortion is a major fault line.