Women’s Legal Abortion Rights At Risk In Poland

Women’s rights groups held protests across Poland to express frustration at a top court’s ruling putting further restrictions on the nation’s current abortion laws.

AbortionPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

Demonstrators in the capital used drums, firecrackers, pots, and horns, and to be heard, blocking traffic at major intersections. They held banners with obscenities and demanded the right-wing government rescind power. Organizers said that people participated in protests in over 150 cities in Poland. In Krakow, Poland’s second-largest city, demonstrators chanted sentiments of protest heard across the nation.  Protesters ignored government bans on gatherings intended to halt a spike in COVID-19 infections.

Protests have taken place each day since the Constitutional Tribunal ruled last Thursday that it was deemed unconstitutional to terminate a pregnancy due to a fetal congenital defect. The new law will ban almost all abortions in the country. The ruling has not taken effect yet, because as required by law, it has not been published. Poland’s leaders have also come under criticism. Legal professors at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University said such a ruling during a pandemic was an “a lack of responsibility for people’s lives.”

Gynecologists have also condemned the ruling. Many doctors argue the ban will result in a rise in illegal abortions. The government-controlled court, who made the ruling, overturned a provision of the 1990’s law forged by the country’s political authorities and church leaders. That former law permitted abortion for extreme cases, one of Europe’s strictest abortion laws.

Abortions will only be permitted if a pregnancy threatens a woman’s health or is the result of rape or incest. Statistics state that 1,110 legal abortions were performed in Poland in 2019, because of fetal defects. Non-Government organizations estimate that Polish women undergo 100,000 to 150,000 abortions a year, some illegally. Nation-wide strikes will be held this Wednesday and Friday to put more pressure on the constitutional court and the Law and Justice party behind the court’s decision.

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Polands strictest abortion laws