Protests condemn Polish abortion bill
Cities across Poland saw large protests (pictured) to oppose a tightening of abortion laws.
Poland already has some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe, with the procedure only permitted if the life of the mother or foetus is at risk or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.
The bill would allow procedures in cases where the mother’s life was at risk or the pregnancy resulted from a crime, but would ban the termination of foetuses with congenital disorders.
One banner read: “I will not give birth to a dead baby.”
An estimated 55,000 protesters joined the “Black Friday” rally in Warsaw, according to the municipal authorities, with the police estimating the number at 20,000.
The proposed legislation, already approved for further debate by the lower house in January and by a parliamentary committee this week, would ban abortions of foetuses with congenital disorders, which currently covers more than 90 per cent of legal abortions.
UN human rights experts called on MPs to reject the bill, saying it risked causing serious damage to women’s health.
Nils Muižnieks of the Council of Europe human rights group said preventing access to safe and legal abortions jeopardised women’s human rights.
In 2016, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party axed legislation that would have imposed a near total abortion ban after about 100,000 people protested and support fell for the nationalist party.
Poland has held prayers and ceremonies honouring Poles who gave shelter and aid to Jews during the Holocaust as for the first time Poland marked a new national holiday in their memory.
The main event was held in the southern village of Markowa where Nazi occupiers in 1944 executed a Polish man Jozef Ulma and his pregnant wife, Wiktoria, their six children and eight Jews they were hiding.
Thousands of other Poles who reportedly helped Jews while risking execution were also praised.
A statement by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki read out at the event said the occupation was “one of the most glorious pages of Polish history”.
Morawiecki has been a controversial figure after pushing through the Holocaust speech law, which came into force this month.
It imposes fines or up to three years in jail on anyone who ascribes “responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich”.
Last week, the Polish attorney general’s office declared the law partly unconstitutional, saying that penalising acts committed abroad independently of Poland’s laws demonstrated “excessive interference”.
It said the law was dysfunctional, could be counterproductive and “undermine the Polish state’s authority”.
Poland has been in talks in Israel over the law.
Pro-choice protesters oppose PiS government. Picture credit: YouTube