Reykjavík Crowd Protests Poland’s Tightened Abortion Laws

Poland protest abortion law

A well-attended protest was held last night outside the Polish Embassy in Reykjavík. It was the second protest within a week organised by activist group Dziewuchy ISLANDIA in opposition to Poland’s recent tightening of abortion law, after a court ruling banned almost all terminations of pregnancy in the country. Thousands have protested the change across Poland, which already had some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe.

“By organising solidarity actions in Reykjavík we want to show our support to women and allies fighting for their lives and health in Poland, saying loudly ‘Nigdy nie będziesz szła sama’ (You will never walk alone, sister),” protest organisers Adrianna Stanczak, Sajja Justyna Grosel, and Anna Marjankowska told Iceland Review. “As Polish women able to move, work, and live in Iceland, we see our privilege of living in a country that provides basic health services, that lets us have gynaecological examinations without fear of being humiliated, lets us decide on our bodies and our futures, and lets us get help and medical treatment when we need it.”

Polish nationals are the largest immigrant group in Iceland, numbering over 20,000 and accounting for nearly half of all foreign nationals living in the country. Ewa Marcinek, who moved to Iceland in 2013, echoed the protest organisers’ sentiments. “I feel so lucky to live in Iceland, where medical care is granted to me without any religious or political limits. In Poland, a country with a strong Catholic tradition, abortion law is already strict, causing thousands of women every year to look for help abroad or to risk going through illegal procedures. Personally, I find no words to describe my sadness that the health and well-being of women living in Poland has been questioned in such a radical way.”

Read More: Most Poles in Iceland Did Not Vote for Duda

Michał Drewienkowski moved to Iceland two and a half years ago. He says he attended the protest to support his fiancée and other women. “It’s important to me to speak out because as a man I do not identify with the ideologies of the men governing Poland. I have a fiancée and I wanted her and all women in Poland to know that I support them. I’m standing with them. I will fight with them for gender equality, for basic health care, for their rights to self-determination, that women can and will make their own choices and they are not incubators.”

Fewer than 2,000 legal terminations are carried out in Poland each year, though women’s groups estimate that up to 200,000 abortions are either performed illegally or abroad. Abortions carried out when the foetus is malformed, which accounted for 98% of legal terminations last year, have been outlawed in Poland by the court ruling made last Thursday.

Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir Tweeted yesterday that she was “deeply concerned” about the developments in Poland.

Scrapie Detected in Skagafjörður

rund-up, sheep, réttir

More than 2,000 sheep must be slaughtered due to an outbreak of scrapie in Skagafjörður, North Iceland. The fatal, degenerative disease was detected last week at Stóru-Akrar farm, which has over 800 sheep. Farmer Gunnar Sigurðsson was despondent when interviewed about the matter.

“You’re just overcome by guilt,” Gunnar told RÚV reporters. “There is also this great sorrow. I don’t think there are many people who find it easy to let go of their life’s work, it’s very hard.” Gunnar says sheep farming connects his family, who work together on the farm.

The disease has since been found at three other farms in the fjord: Syðri-Hofdalir, Grænamýri, and Hof í Hjaltadal. All of the sheep at those farms must also be slaughtered to prevent further spread of the disease.

Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease, which affects the nervous systems of sheep and goats. It is highly contagious between sheep and the prion (type of protein) that causes it can persist in soil and flocks for decades. There is no treatment or cure for scrapies. It has, however, not been found to be transmissible to humans, neither through direct contact nor consumption of meat, milk, or other products from infected animals.

Scrapie has been detected in Skagafjörður previously, including in 2016. It is thought to be the first location where scrapies arrived in Iceland, via an English ram that was transported to the fjord in 1878.

Icelandair Can Hold Out Until 2022

Keflavík airport Icelandair

Icelandair’s net earnings have dropped by 81% since last year, RÚV reports. Their earnings from cargo transport have, however, risen by 16%. The figures come from the company’s third-quarter results, published recently on Nasdaq Iceland.

Icelandair has maintained minimum passenger flights between Iceland and a handful of destinations in Europe and North America through the COVID-19 pandemic. It has received government support in various forms since the pandemic began and held a successful public share offering in September as part of its financial restructuring.

The company’s CEO Bogi Nils Bogason has stated that the company can maintain minimum service and sales until 2022 thanks to its strengthened financial position. Icelandair Group’s equity ratio was around 26 percentage points at the end of the quarter, or around ISK 40.7 billion ($291 million/€246 million) and equity was around ISK 55 billion ($393 million/€333 million).