Polish protesters march against Poland abortion law

Thousands of protesters carried out protests across Poland over a top court ruling on Oct 22 that declared abortions of fetuses with congenital defects unconstitutional, effectively narrowing one of Europe’s strictest abortion laws.

The court ruling fulfilled a wish that Kaczynski had expressed in 2016 by saying, “We will strive to ensure that even cases of very difficult pregnancies, when the child is certain to die, very deformed, still end up in a birth, so that the child can be baptized, buried, have a name.”

Once the decision comes into effect, terminations will only be allowed in cases of rape or incest, or if the mother’s health is at risk.

Protesters gathered near the house of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the ruling nationalist Law and Justice party leader, in an affluent Warsaw neighbourhood.

Many of protesters who gathered in cities throughout Poland wore protective masks while defying a coronavirus-related ban on gatherings.

For the second night running, a unit of police in riot gear blocked them from reaching his house, using loudspeakers to ask protesters to disperse and respect restrictions on public gathering.

The protesters held placards with “You Have Blood on Your Hands” and “You are Building Women’s Hell” emblazoned across them.

Officers used bullhorns to warn people the gathering was illegal due to recently imposed coronavirus restrictions.

Protesters also took to the streets of some of Poland’s biggest cities outside the capital, namely Krakow, Wroclaw, Szczecin and Katowice.

Polish opposition parties, the EU’s human rights commissioner as well as international human rights organizations condemned the court’s decision as violating women’s rights. The ruling means pregnancies that endanger a woman’s life, as well as those that occur through rape, are the only legal avenues remaining for having an abortion in Poland.