Protests in Poland Spark as Near-Total Ban on Abortion Goes Into Effect
Photo by Sandra Morante via Shutterstock
Thousands of protesters led by Women’s Strike, a women’s rights group, assembled in Warsaw after Poland’s government imposed a near-total ban on abortion on Jan. 27.
“This decision is a declaration of war,” Marta Lempart, a protest organizer, said in an phone interview with the New York Times.
Others are in favor of this decision.
“We are very happy that this judgement has been published. It is a great step towards the realisation of human rights of all human beings,” Karolina Pawlowska from the Ordo Iuris international law centre told the BBC.
The country’s Constitutional Court ruling bans the termination of pregnancies with fetal defects. Poland’s Constitutional Court released the justification of the law Wednesday night, and the government then published the court’s ruling in a government Journal of Laws. Those steps were the formal prerequisites required for the new law to enter into force.
The court justified its ruling on the grounds that “an unborn child is a human being,” which means it’s protected under Poland’s constitution which ensures the right to life.
Abortions as a result of fetal abnormalities are the only abortions that tend to occur in Poland, and the country already had strict limits on which procedures allowed.
There were 1,100 abortions performed in Poland last year, and 1,074 of those abortions were perormed because of fetal abnormalities, according to The New York Times
Abortion will now only be available in cases of rape or incest, or when the mother’s health or life is in danger.
The implementation of the ruling was originally delayed because of protests that erupted during the fall.
Women’s Strike announced that five people were detained and one of them was, Klementyna Suchanow, one of the leaders of the movement.
There are talks about new rules that could allow exclusions for the most extreme fetal deformities. Marek Suski, a politician in the Law and Justice Party, said that they are considering making exceptions to the new law, but an agreement between the party and its conservative allies might be too difficult to accomplish.
“In cases when the fetus doesn’t have a skull or has no chance to live outside the womb, there should be a choice. We will work on this,” Suski told Polish public radio.
Poland’s top human rights official denounced this additional restriction of what was already one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe.
“The state wants to further limit their rights, risk their lives, and condemn them to torture,” said Adam Bodnar, the human rights commissioner. “This offensive is opposed by civil society.”
Poland was seen as a key European ally of the former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, but it has been criticized by other European officials for “eroding democracy.” The relations between Poland and the new Biden administration remain unknown.
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