Protests Erupt In Poland After Court Rules Near-Total Ban On Abortions
Protests have broken out outside the home of Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, after Poland’s top court ruled to almost completely ban abortion.
Abortion has long been a topic of debate in the country, which already had some of the strictest abortion rules in Europe.
But following the Constitutional Court’s ruling yesterday, October 22, these rules have been further tightened, sparking protests across the country, including in the capital, Warsaw.
The new ruling means aborting a foetus due to any deformities it may have is ‘unconstitutional’. This had previously been one of the few legal grounds for abortion in Poland, reported The Guardian, and was introduced in 1993.
Now the country will only allow abortions on the grounds of there being threat to the mother’s life, or if the pregnancy is a result of rape and/or incest – reasons that have only made for 2% of legal terminations in recent years.
Following this ruling, protests erupted in Warsaw that saw police officers having to use physical force as well as pepper spray. According to BBC News, 15 people were detained. The protests were broken up in the early hours of this morning, October 23, but there have been calls for further rallies to take place later today.
Dunja Mijatović, the commissioner for human rights, described yesterday’s ruling as ‘a sad day for women’s rights’:
She wrote on Twitter:
Removing the basis for almost all legal abortions in #Poland amounts to a ban & violates #HumanRights. Today’s ruling of the Constitutional Court means underground/abroad abortions for those who can afford & even greater ordeal for all others. A sad day for #WomensRights.
Prior to making its laws around abortion even stricter, it’s thought around 100,000 Polish women a week would travel abroad to get abortions; a number that will only increase following yesterday’s ruling.
Kamila Ferenc, a lawyer who works with an NGO helping women denied abortion, agreed with Mijatović and said, ‘It is a devastating sentence that will destroy the lives of many women and many families.’
Meanwhile, Polish sexual and reproductive health and rights activist Antonina Lewandowska told the BBC that she thought that Poland’s original 1993 laws on abortion were ‘inhuman’.
She said, ‘It’s inhuman, it’s despicable honestly to make anyone carry a pregnancy to term, especially if the foetus is malformed, and 98% of legal abortions carried out in Poland are due to foetal malformations.’
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