Poland’s abortion ban to come into force, sparking fresh protests

The ban on abortions in nearly all circumstances is to come into effect in Poland, after the law was published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday.

The law, originally passed in October, was subsequently delayed due to widespread protests throughout the country against the measure, which took place amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The protests saw clashes between demonstrators and police.

Poland’s ruling conservative government said on Twitter: “The Constitutional Court presented a written justification of the ruling on the protection of life. In accordance with constitutional requirements, the ruling will be published today in the Official Gazette.”

The Constitutional Court, which was reformed by the religious, conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS), has banned abortions in cases of serious malformation of the foetus, ultimately meaning any abortion was banned except in cases of rape or incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger.

Poland already had some of the strictest abortion laws in the European Union, and an estimated 200,000 abortions are performed illegally or abroad every year, according to feminist organisaitons.

Activists call for fresh protests

The government announcement led to immediate calls for activists to take to the streets.

Demonstrations were announced on Wednesday evening in front of the headquarters of the Constitutional Court in Warsaw, as well as in several cities across the country.

“We urge everyone to take to the streets…Express your anger as you see fit,” Marta Lempart of the Women’s Strike, the main movement behind the protests, told reporters Wednesday.

“The whole of Poland is mobilising, not just Warsaw, we are ready! When we talk about women’s hell, we can now talk about government hell,” added Klementyna Suchanow, also from the movement.

Chairman of the opposition Civic Platform, Borys Budka, attacked the decision on Twitter, accusing Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of PiS and deputy prime minister, of using the ban to “cover up the traces of the government’s defeat in the fight against COVID” and “the failure of the vaccination programme”.

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