Pro-Choice Protest Leader In Poland Charged For Opposing Country’s Abortion Ban
Pro-choice activist Marta Lempart is facing up to eight years in prison after organising mass protests against Poland’s abortion ban.
Demonstrations against the controversial ruling began following its initial approval last year and continued last month when the government announced the near-total ban on abortion would be going into effect imminently.
Lempart is one of thousands who have been taking to the streets to protest for the right to choose, but the prosecutors office announced today, February 11, she has been charged as a result of her involvement in planning the protests.
The charges being faced by the activist include organising demonstrations in breach of coronavirus restrictions, insulting the police and voicing support for attacks on churches, spokesperson Aleksandra Skrzyniarz said, AFP reports.
She has also been charged with the ‘malicious obstruction’ of religious services after she made favourable comments about protesters who had sprayed paint on church facades and disrupted Masses during their protests.
Skrzyniarz added: ‘She faces up to eight years in prison.’
Lempart has denied the charges, pleading not guilty and refusing to testify in the case. Speaking to AP News, Lempart said she sees the charges as an intensification of political pressure on her movement.
The pro-choice activist is one of the organisers behind the Women’s Strike movement, which has been responsible for coordinating demonstrations across Poland. Those taking to the streets have been seen waving Polish flags, LGBTQ+ flags and the red lightning symbol used by Women’s Strike.
Lempart encouraged people to march in a press conference following the enforcement of the ban, The Guardian reports, commenting: We are inviting everyone, please, go out, be motivated, so we can walk together, make a mark.’
The ruling, handed down by the constitutional tribunal, determined that terminating pregnancies due to severe foetal abnormalities is unconstitutional. As a result, abortion has been banned in the country except for in cases of rape, incest or when the woman’s life is in danger.
The government has argued that the ban will prevent ‘eugenic abortions’, which refers to the termination of foetuses diagnosed with Down’s syndrome. However, human rights groups say the ruling will force women to carry non-viable pregnancies.
Even before the ban was brought in, Poland was known for having some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Less than 2,000 legal abortions take place in the country every year, and hundreds of thousands of women are thought to travel abroad or undergo illegal abortions in order to avoid the ban.
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