Tens of thousands are protesting in Poland over the abortion law

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Tens of thousands protest in Warsaw against a ruling by the Constitutional Court on abortion regulation. Demonstrators, including several leading politicians from opposition parties, gathered in Warsaw at three different points in the city center. The marches later led to the Zoliborz district in Warsaw, where the house of Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski is located. Not far from there, they were stopped by police cordons.

The crowd is demanding the repeal of the law restricting abortion and the replacement of the government. Participants clashed with protesters in some places, with the fighting groups separated by police.

President Andrzej Duda today presented Parliament with a newer, milder version of the law that would allow abortion if life-threatening harm to the fetus is likely, but protect children with Down syndrome from abortion.

Opposition Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski expressed his support for the protesters in a video message recorded at the protest. At the initiative of the Warsaw mayor’s office, the symbol of the current protests, the red lightning, was projected on the facade of the Palace of Culture, which was considered one of the symbols of the capital and was built in Stalin.

In Poland, thousands of people, mostly women, have been marching on the streets of big cities every Tuesday since protesting against a decision by the Constitutional Court declaring an abortion law clause allowing the abortion of fetuses suffering from incurable diseases to be unconstitutional.

The law, which has been in effect since Tuesday, allowed fetuses under 12 weeks of age to be rejected if the pregnancy was the result of rape, and without time limit if the mother’s life was in danger or the fetus was found to be incurable. Of the 1,100 abortions performed legally in 2019, 1,074 were performed due to a fetal disorder.

In announcing Tuesday’s decision, Julia Przyłębska, President of the Constitutional Court, argued against rejecting incurable sick fetuses that the constitution guarantees the right to life and that “eugenic practice” of abortion is simply a directly prohibited form of discrimination. In Poland, doctors have the right to refuse to perform an abortion on conscientious grounds, but even to prescribe a birth control pill.

The issue of the abortion law was brought before the Constitutional Court by representatives of the governing Law and Justice (PiS) after it emerged that the party did not have a sufficient parliamentary majority to change the law. One of the reasons for its timing may be that there is no significant political measurement on the horizon (municipal elections were held in 2018, parliamentary elections in 2019 and presidential elections in 2020), and another is that it helps divert attention from the Polish authorities. control of the spread of the coronavirus epidemic begins to slip.

The latter is characterized by a record number of new infections identified in 24 hours on Friday with 21,629 cases, and a death toll of 301 deaths on Thursday. Attorney General Bogdan Święczkowski writes the AP news agency – also hastily indicated that, as the coronavirus was apparently spreading more widely during the demonstrations, he would initiate criminal proceedings against the organizers of the demonstrations on the grounds of “causing an epidemic threat”. In the meantime, Minister of Education Przemysław Czarnek threatened to withdraw support from universities that stand up for the protesters.

The outrage over the decision of the Constitutional Court is also reflected in the loss of popularity of the PiS, the support of the Polish ruling party has plummeted to 26 percent in five years, according to a survey conducted by the Kantar pollster. and Gazeta Wyborcza on behalf of. According to him, party chairman Jarosław Kaczyński and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki are just two percent ahead of the right-wing party coalition called the Civic Coalition (KO), and third is the recently founded movement of journalist Szymon Hołownia, Poland with 2050 (Polska 2050) third place.

Sixty-three percent of those surveyed support abortion when the mother’s life or health is at risk, 59 percent when the fetus suffers from an incurable disease or deformity, and 54 percent when the cause of the pregnancy is rape.

And it seems politics is starting to backfire, Head of State Andrzej Duda at least on Friday promisedto submit a bill that would still allow the rejection of (if not incurable, but) terminally ill fetuses.

After the decision of the Constitutional Court, what would have been unimaginable a week ago also happened in deeply religious Poland, namely that anger reached the churches. Protesters have interrupted masses, attacked priests, damaged several church buildings, or scribbled with graffiti because the Catholic Church has long been a proponent of a total abortion ban. In one of the suburbs of Warsaw, Konstancin Jeziorna with red paint poured down the late Catholic archbishop, II. Statue of John Paul.

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