Pro-choice protesters marched through towns in Poland on Friday amid public anger over a decision banning nearly all abortions in the country
An angry crowd clashed with riot police near the home of Jarosław Kaczyński in Warsaw, the leader of the right-wing ruling party in Poland, and waved signs saying: « You have blood on your hands « and » You are building women’s hell «
Protesters also marched in other major cities, including Krakow, Wrocław, Szczecin and Katowice. Further protests are planned this weekend
Poland already has some of the most draconian abortion laws in Europe and on Thursday a constitutional court ruled that one of the few exceptions to the ban – cases of severe fetal impairment – should also be made illegal These cases, which Catholic anti-abortion activists have called « eugenic abortion », made up almost all of the few legal abortions in Poland.
The Constitutional Court held that abortion in cases where « prenatal tests or other medical indications indicate a high probability of severe and irreversible fetal impairment or of an incurable life-threatening disease » is a violation of the constitutional right to life The country’s populist and socially conservative government, Law and Justice (PiS), which has been accused of eroding judicial independence, had filled the court with loyalists
The move comes as Poland grapples with a second wave of coronavirus cases, and restrictions limit the possibility of mass protests on Friday Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced restaurants and bars would close for two weeks and that public gatherings would be limited to five people, with infections reaching a new daily high of more than 13,600
Despite the ban on gatherings, a number of protests were scheduled for Friday evening and over the weekend, with many pointing out that they would observe distancing measures Thursday evening, protesters in Warsaw gathered outside the house of Jarosław Kaczyński, the powerful Deputy Prime Minister and PiS ideologue Police used pepper spray on protesters and arrested 15 people
In Łódź, a « funeral for women’s rights » was scheduled for Friday evening, while protesters promised to gather again in Warsaw « In a few days, women’s hell will begin in this country », says the description of a Facebook protest event held in the city of Gdańsk over the weekend, in which participants were encouraged to block major road junctions
Every year, thousands of Polish women seeking abortions are forced to travel to neighboring countries In previous years, attempts to tighten already strict legislation have led to a huge protest movement, with tens of thousands of black-clad women parading through major Polish cities Surveys have shown that while society is divided over liberalizing abortion, only a small minority supported further tightening of the rules, and the PiS government backed down on supporting tighter restrictions after the 2016 protests.
« The government sidestepped the essence of democracy – wide public debate and consultation – and introduced a ban on such abortion through the backdoor, using the subordinate constitutional court, » Zuzanna Rudzińska said -Bluszcz, candidate for Polish Human Rights Ombudsman, who enjoys the support of more than 1,000 non-governmental organizations but has been blocked by the PiS-dominated parliament
« The consequences will involve more human tragedies and the rapid growth of clandestine abortion The judgment will negatively affect the most vulnerable groups and, in all likelihood, will divide Poland even more », she added
The decision also drew criticism from abroad Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, called it a « sad day for women’s rights »
However, church leaders praised the decision Marek Jędraszewski, Archbishop of Krakow, expressed « great gratitude for the courage » of the court judges
Abortion, Poland, protest
EbeneMagazine – UA – Pro-choice protesters march through Polish towns amid anger over abortion ban