Plans to restrict Poland's abortion laws unleash mass protests
PR dla Zagranicy
Thousands took to the streets of Warsaw to demonstrate against plans to further tighten Poland’s strict abortion law, but City Hall, police and public media gave different turnout figures.
Protesters carrying a banner reading: "Women's Strike" during a "Black Friday" demonstration in Warsaw, 23 March 2018. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka
Police said 20,000 men and women marched in Warsaw in the "Black Friday" protest. City hall spokesman Bartosz Milczarczyk put the figure at around 55,000, while public broadcaster TVP estimated the number at "several thousand."
The demonstrations, named "Black Friday," were held in cities and towns across the country, accompanied by minor protests in various parts of the world, including Berlin, London and Toronto.
Thousands march in protest of the "Stop Abortion" draft bill, supported by the Polish Catholic Church, in Warsaw's city centre on Friday afternoon, 23 March 2018. Photo: PAP/Jakub Kamiński
In the Polish capital, demonstrators gathered near parliament and marched to the ruling Law and Justice party's headquarters, carrying red hand-shaped signs reading "Stop tightening the abortion law," chanting slogans "I think, I feel, I decide" and blowing horns.
Hundreds of people held banners reading "My body, my choice" and "Yes for women's lives."
New citizens' bill
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.
In January, the lower house of Poland's parliament sent a citizens’ bill to outlaw termination of disfigured and disabled foetuses to a parliamentary committee for review. The committee on Monday backed the bill, called "Stop Abortion."
The Polish Catholic Church has urged the country's MPs to adopt the proposed legislation.
The Council of Europe's human rights commissioner Nils Muiznieks warned Poland this week that "Preventing women from accessing safe and legal abortion care jeopardises their human rights."
An attempt by the ruling conservatives to ban abortion in all cases was abandoned in the wake of mass protest in 2016.