Huge pro-abortion protests have gridlocked the center of Warsaw, Poland for a week. The demonstrations are being widely described as the largest to hit the conservative Catholic country in decades, triggered by a new court decision that effectively bans all abortions throughout the country.
Especially starting Wednesday into Friday the protests appeared massive, with some international reports saying some 400,000 people flooded the streets on single days.
— Reuters (@Reuters) October 30, 2020
Poland’s Constitutional Court last week ruled that an existing law allowing for abortions in cases of birth defects was unconstitutional. Conservative critics pointed to it being a form of eugenics, while feminist and other activist groups considered it an attack on women’s rights.
The government hailed the court decision as finally banning “eugenic abortions”; however, in the wake of the firestorm of protests President Andrzej Duda said he would consider legislation that allows for it in cases of “lethal defects”.
Drone footage from Friday protests, which went into the evening, showed masses taking over entire highways and multiple city blocks.
Women-led Protests continue in #Poland for Day 7 against Court ruling making abortion mostly illegal.
Warsaw today: pic.twitter.com/FMuh40DhBj
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) October 28, 2020
The protesters’ wrath is being directed at the Catholic and nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, who pushed the decision to the court.
There were clashes with police in front of Poland’s parliament over the past days, but the demonstrations are being widely described as mostly peaceful, also with a heavy police presence and some groups of counter-demonstrators.
The only possible instances of a legal abortion in Poland are now cases of rape, incest, or where the mother’s life is in danger due to pregnancy or delivery complications.
Reports cite that there are less than 2,000 legal abortions in Poland each year; however, it’s estimated that tens of thousands of women abort illegally or go abroad, especially to other parts of Europe.