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Thousands of people again took to the streets on Friday evening in Poland to protest against the entry into force of a decree which establishes a virtual ban on abortion.
“My body, my choice”, “I think, I feel, I decide”, “The revolution, it has a uterus”, “You have blood on your hands”, could one read on the signs of the mobilized demonstrators by the thousands in Warsaw, Friday January 29. It was the third night in a row of protest following the entry into force on Wednesday of a controversial ruling virtually banning abortion.
In accordance with the wishes of the ruling ultra-Catholic right-wing coalition, this judgment prohibits the voluntary termination of pregnancy in the event of fetal abnormalities. From now on, any abortion is prohibited in Poland except in cases of rape or incest or when the mother’s life is in danger.
In Warsaw, the mobilization took place at the call of the Women’s Strike, the main movement behind the protests. Many protesters wore masks adorned with a red lightning bolt, the symbol of pro-abortion activists. Calls for “abortion on demand” and warnings to the government that will be “abolished by women”, resounded to the sound of drums and a few smoke firecrackers.
>> To see: Poland: the women’s revolt
Some wore green scarves around their necks, the symbol of abortion rights activists in Argentina, who succeeded in getting abortion legalized in their country last month.
In the Polish capital, the demonstration ended, without major incidents, in front of the house of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the Law and Justice party (PiS) in power, protected by an imposing police device. After a “freedom festival” of songs, dances and slogans, the organizers called on the protesters to return home.
One of the most restrictive laws in Europe
The protests should be suspended for the weekend, so as not to interfere with a Polish grind of the annual telethon.
The day before, the police arrested several people who tried to enter the building of the Constitutional Court.
Poland, a predominantly Catholic country, has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe.
Today, there are less than 2,000 legal abortions per year in Poland, according to official data. Feminist organizations also estimate that around 200,000 abortions are performed illegally or abroad each year.
The government says the new ban will end “eugenic abortions”, referring to the abortion of fetuses diagnosed with Down’s syndrome, but according to a number of human rights organizations, this measure will force women to lead to non-viable pregnancies.
The tribunal’s decision was handed down in October, but the government delayed its formalization amid mass protests that quickly adopted much broader anti-government slogans.