To­tal abor­tion ban re­jected af­ter mass protests

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

WAR­SAW, Poland (AP): LAW­MAK­ERS WITH Poland’s rul­ing right-wing party voted in a tu­mul­tuous par­lia­men­tary com­mis­sion ses­sion to re­ject a pro­posal for a to­tal ban on abor­tion.

The de­ci­sion ap­peared to doom an ef­fort to add fur­ther lim­its to what is al­ready one of Europe’s most re­stric­tive abor­tion laws.

How­ever, the pro­posal must still go to a vote to the full assem­bly of the Lower House of Par­lia­ment to­day. Law­mak­ers will then vote on whether to re­ject it out­right or whether to re­turn it to the com­mis­sion level for fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion.

The vote in a chaotic and emo­tional ses­sion yes­ter­day came af­ter the abor­tion ban pro­posal sparked mas­sive protests on Mon­day, with large num­bers of women across the na­tion don­ning black, boy­cotting work and school and demon­strat­ing in the streets.

It came just be­fore the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment held an emo­tional de­bate on the sit­u­a­tion of women in Poland. Some mem­bers called for the need to save un­born lives. Oth­ers ex­pressed their sol­i­dar­ity with Pol­ish women, some by wear­ing black.

LAW OFF THE TA­BLE

“We learned to­day that, for the time be­ing, the law seems to be off the ta­ble, but I would say that this is no rea­son for cel­e­bra­tion,” Dutch law­maker Sophia Veld said, ar­gu­ing that cur­rent Pol­ish law “still doesn’t give women the choice”.

In the two days since Mon­day’s protests, Poland’s lead­ers had sig­nalled they wouldn’t sup­port the di­vi­sive ban.

Mem­bers of the rul­ing rightwing Law and Jus­tice party, joined by law­mak­ers from other par­ties, voted against the pro­posal. Some said they don’t ap­prove of im­pos­ing crim­i­nal sen­tences on women who seek abor­tions. The pro­posal un­der dis­cus­sion calls for prison terms of up to five years for both the women and their doc­tors.

Poland al­ready out­laws abor­tions, with ex­cep­tions made only for rape, in­cest, badly dam­aged foe­tuses or if the mother’s life is at risk. In prac­tice, though, some doc­tors, cit­ing moral ob­jec­tions, refuse to per­form even le­gal abor­tions. Pol­ish women seek­ing abor­tions typ­i­cally get them in Ger­many or other neigh­bour­ing coun­tries or or­der abor­tion pills on­line.

The anti-abor­tion ini­tia­tive gath­ered 450,000 sig­na­tures in sup­port of the to­tal abor­tion ban and is sup­ported by the Ro­man Catholic Church.

AP PHO­TOS

Pol­ish women protest against a leg­isla­tive pro­posal for a to­tal ban on abor­tion in Poland, dur­ing a demon­stra­tion near EU head­quar­ters in Brus­sels on Mon­day. Many women in Poland took to the streets boy­cotting their jobs and classes as part of a na­tion­wide strike protest­ing a leg­isla­tive pro­posal for a to­tal ban on abor­tion.

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