Polish women strike against abortion ban
THOUSANDS of black-clad women protested across Poland against a proposed near-total abortion ban in the devoutly Catholic country, where the law is already among the most restrictive in Europe.
Pro-choice activists used social media to launch the countrywide “Women Strike” protest, urging women to stay away from work and school to attend street protests.
Around 2000 people rallied outside the Warsaw headquarters of the governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, forming a “wall of fury” human chain on October 3.
PiS lawmakers in late September pushed ahead with a controversial bill that would allow terminations only if the mother’s life is at risk and increase the maximum jail term for practitioners from two years to five.
The citizen’s initiative tabled in parliament by the Stop Abortion coalition would also make women who have terminations liable to prison terms, though judges could waive punishment in their case.
Poland’s influential Catholic Church has given the initiative its seal of approval, though its bishops have since opposed jailing women.
Passed in 1993, the current law bans all terminations unless there was rape or incest, the pregnancy poses a health risk to the mother or the foetus is severely deformed.
A poll published this week by the Newsweek Polska magazine showed that 74 percent of Poles want to keep the existing law.
The European Parliament is expected to debate women’s rights in Poland today. –