Thousands of protesters erupted across Poland over a Supreme Court ruling declaring abortions of fetuses with congenital defects unconstitutional, effectively narrowing one of Europe’s strictest abortion laws.
Police vans and riot units were dispatched Friday to guard Warsaw’s home for Poland’s right – wing leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski. An angry crowd of mostly young people confronted the cordon with chants of “This is war” and vulgar calls for the ruling team to resign.
The ruling fulfilled a wish that Kaczynski had expressed in 2016 by saying: “We will strive to ensure that even cases of very difficult pregnancies, when the baby is sure to die, very deformed, still end in a birth, so the baby can be baptized, buried, have a name. ”
Protesters in Warsaw stopped banners with slogans, including: “You have blood on your hands” and “You build women’s hell.”
A 29-year-old, Diana Fidler, joined the protesters, explaining that she is against abortion in the case of healthy fetuses, but finds the decision forcing women to carry fetuses with serious defects to be described as extreme.
Officers used bullhorns to warn people that the collection was illegal because of the epidemic. After it appeared that Kaczynski was not at home, the protesters marched through the city towards a government villa, where they believed he had been led.
The spectators included a lot of young women, but also many men who said they were fighting for a broader attack on individual rights by the Conservative government.
“I wish my freedom could be next,” said Dawid Pawlowski, 30, who was marching in Warsaw with a sign saying “Wojna” – Polish for War.
Some people wore braces, a symbol of dangerous abortions that occur in conditions where safe abortions are not available.
Protesters also marched through other major cities, including Krakow, Wroclaw, Szczecin and Katowice.
A protest also took place outside Kaczynski’s home on Thursday night after the Constitutional Court presented its abortion law ruling. Police used tear gas and detained 15 people at the time.
Rights groups criticize the court’s decision
Domestic and international human rights groups criticized the court’s ruling as a violation of women’s rights. The only legal reasons left for an abortion in Poland will now be danger to the woman’s health or life or pregnancy as a result of rape or incest.
Removing the basis for almost all legal abortions in #Poland constitutes a ban and violates #HumanRights. Today’s decision by the Constitutional Court means abortions underground / abroad for those who can afford and even greater trials for everyone else. A sad day for #WomensRights.
– Commissioner for Human Rights (@CommissionerHR) 22 October 2020
The decision takes effect when it is officially published in the Journal of Laws, which can be done within a few days or weeks.
Critics noted that the decision was handed down at a time when street actions are prohibited. Earlier attempts to curb abortion, since Kaczynski’s party law and justice came to power in 2015, were scrapped after nationwide nationwide street protests.
Critics accuse the ruling party of using the pandemic’s coverage to push it through with a politicized court. They also accuse the party of trying to create social tensions to distract attention from the soaring COVID-19 infection rates.
The decision of the Constitutional Court came in response to a proposal by right-wing legislators who argued that termination of a pregnancy due to fetal defects – the most common cause of legal abortions in Poland – is contrary to a constitutional provision calling for the protection of every individual human life. .
The court agreed with the legislators that an abortion based on the health of a fetus constituted unlawful discrimination. The statement, approved by 11 of the 13 judges of the government-run court, said that termination of a pregnancy due to birth defects constituted eugenics – a notion of 19th-century genetic selection used by German Nazis in experiments.
Polish President Andrzej Duda welcomed the decision.
“I have talked about it many times and I have never hidden that abortion for so-called eugenic reasons should not be allowed in Poland,” Duda said. “I believe that every child has the right to life.”
Ministry of Health figures for 2019 show that most of the 1,110 legal abortions performed in Poland last year were due to genetic defects such as Down syndrome or physical deficiencies.