Monday, 19 August, 2019

Plans to restrict Poland's abortion laws unleash mass protests

Police officers guard the entrance to the bishops residence as people gather in front of the building to protest against efforts by the nation's conservative leaders to tighten Poland's already restrictive abortion law in Warsaw Poland Friday March 23 Plans to restrict Poland's abortion laws unleash mass protests
Lora Ball | 25 March, 2018, 16:24

The EU human rights head has warned this would put Poland at odds with worldwide law.

However, Poland still has some of the most stringent abortion laws in the European Union (EU).

In Ireland, a referendum will be held in May on whether to reform the country's near-total ban - abortion is only allowed when a woman's life is at risk.

In Warsaw, men and women carried large red signs shaped like hands with the word "Stop", as well as others with slogans such as "we want choice, not terrorising".

Under Poland's already strict laws, abortions are allowed only if the pregnancy is the result of a crime such as incest or rape, threatens the life or health of the woman, or if the foetus is severely deformed or ill.

"I hope this protest has the same effect as the one in 2016".

The plan was scrapped after tens of thousands of people dressed in black - majority women - protested across the country.

A protest of hundreds in Wroclaw included a sign that said "I will not give birth to a dead baby". The protesters in the capital marched through the streets chanting and blaring bullhorn sirens. The procession then headed to parliament before ending at the headquarters of the ruling right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party headed up by Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

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The pro-government state television TVP estimated the number at several thousand protesters.

The government has also cut funding for in-vitro fertilization.

The proposed changes are less restrictive than those discussed in 2016, that would have led to a complete ban - the only exception would have been when the mother's life was in danger.

"This bill would further hinder women, particularly those from low-income and rural communities, from accessing safe abortion care", a letter from more than 200 groups said.

People hold up coat hangers as they demonstrate in front of the seat of the Warsaw archdiocese on March 18, 2018, in a protest against what they call the Catholic Church's intrusion into politics by supporting a new measure to tighten the already restrictive law on abortion.

The European Union's Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, and United Nations experts are urging Poland's parliament to reject the abortion bill, saying it puts Poland in conflict with its global human rights obligations.

"This step would be at variance with Poland's obligations under global human rights law".

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