Protests Bring Poland To Standstill After Near-Total Ban On Abortions
Poland has come to a standstill as thousands of people fill the streets in protest of a court’s near-total ban on abortion.
For the fifth day in a row, protesters have blocked the main streets of the Polish capital Warsaw, after the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that abortions, even in cases of foetal defects, are illegal.
Even before the ruling, Poland’s abortion laws were among the strictest in Europe, but now, pregnancy terminations will only be allowed under Polish law in cases of rape, incest or to protect the mother’s life.
Drivers created blockages, allowing thousands of protesters to gather and march through various cities across the country, carrying signs with slogans such as: ‘I wish I could abort my government.’
On Monday, October 26, around 50 cities saw crowds so large that cars and trams were stopped from being able to travel through. Over the weekend, church services were disrupted and graffiti was sprayed across the walls of churches in the capital.
Protests such as these are an unusual sight in Poland, where the Roman Catholic Church still has a huge influence over the eastern European country.
Abortion has long proved to be a contentious issue in Poland, where locals are said to be split on whether the practice of allowing women to choose whether to terminate their pregnancy should be allowed.
According to an opinion poll by the CBOS research centre in 2014, 65% of people living in Poland at the time were against abortion, while 27% believed it was acceptable and 8% were undecided. However, recent opinion polls have all erred on the side pro-choice, with of the majority being strongly against tightening the laws around abortion.
The ruling came following a legal challenge against a 1993 law permitting abortion in cases of severe foetal disabilities, which make up 98% of terminations carried out in Poland.
One protester in Warsaw said the Polish government had crossed a line, and that the public won’t be forgiving them any time soon.
‘Poles have already forgiven this government so many different scandals, but we won’t forgive this attack on the freedom and dignity of women,’ she said, as The Guardian reports.
‘Forcing us to give birth to sick, deformed foetuses, causing such suffering to mothers and children, is barbarism taking Poland back to the middle ages. A line has been crossed and we are not going to back down.’
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