Europe / International News

Thousands of Poles protest efforts to change abortion law

Poland Abortion

A woman wearing sunglasses with KOD, the anti-government Committee for the Defense of Democracy, and earrings in the shape of coat hangers – a symbol of illegal, life-threatening abortion – attends a protest against the tightening of Poland’s already restrictive anti-abortion law in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday, April 9, 2016. Thousands protested steps taken by Poland’s Catholic bishops and an anti-abortion organization toward a total ban of abortion. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Thousands of Poles rallied Saturday, Apr.9, against tightening Poland’s anti-abortion law, which is already among Europe’s strictest.

Street protests were organized in Warsaw and in other Polish cities by a new pro-abortion group that opposes a recent call by some Catholic bishops for an unconditional ban on abortion in Poland, and efforts by an anti-abortion group to have the current law tightened. It was the second wave of such street protests this month.

Poland’s new, conservative government promotes Catholic values and families with many children. Government leaders say that, as Catholics, they support a total ban.

Abortion is illegal in Poland except for cases when the pregnancy poses a threat to the woman’s health or life, if it results from a crime like incest or rape or if the fetus is damaged or incurably sick. The regulations were adopted in 1993 as a hard-won compromise.

Earlier this month, some bishops issued a statement condemning the law and calling for a total ban on abortion. A civic group, meanwhile, has drafted new legislation tightening the law and is taking steps to make lawmakers vote on it.

The moves have provoked a heated debate that has exposed deep divisions among Poles, who mostly declare themselves Catholic.


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