Protests Break Out In Poland As Near-Total Ban On Abortion Comes Into Force
Nationwide protests broke out in Poland as the government announced a near-total ban on abortion would come into effect imminently.
Demonstrators gathered in Warsaw and other cities across the country to speak out about the controversial ruling, which was originally handed down by the constitutional tribunal in October.
The government ruled that terminating pregnancies due to severe foetal abnormalities is unconstitutional and moved to ban all abortions except in cases of rape and incest, or when the mother’s life or health are considered to be in danger.
Thousands of people took to the streets following the initial ruling, and they gathered again on Wednesday, January 27, after it was published on the website for the Journal of Laws.
The right-wing government published the law in order to respect its constitutional obligations, and noted that doing so gives the ruling legal force. The ruling Law and Justice party has been accused of politicising the constitutional tribunal in order to push through its anti-abortion agenda.
Protest group leader Marta Lempart encouraged people to protest in a press conference made after the government’s announcement, The Guardian reports, stating: ‘We are inviting everyone, please, go out, be motivated, so we can walk together, make a mark.’
Klementyna Suchanow, another protest organiser from the organisation Women’s Strike, commented:
The whole of Poland is mobilising, not just in Warsaw. We are ready!
When we speak of hell for women, we can also speak of hell for the government. We are going to make this hell for you.
Pregnant people in Poland are already subject to some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe, with most of the procedures taking place involving cases of foetal defects.
On Twitter, the Centre for Reproductive Rights in New York stated that it stood ‘in solidarity with women in Poland’, writing:
The Center is deeply concerned abortion will become de facto banned in Poland following a decision from its Constitutional Tribunal. This regressive decision will cause grave harm to women and contravenes human rights.
Alongside the ruling the government published the court’s justification for the new law, which framed the notion of abortion as being about defending the life of an unborn child. The court reportedly told Polish legislators they should use terms such as ‘child’ and ‘mother’ when talking about abortions, rather than ‘foetus’ and ‘pregnant woman’.
Of the 15 judges that made up the court, five dissented from the majority opinion, though some of those only took issue with the justification rather than the ruling itself.
The three-month delay in publishing the ruling made the procedures tough for doctors, who remained unsure when it would go into effect. In an effort to get around the laws, many Polish women are forced to travel abroad to undergo an abortion.
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