Thousands of Poles took to the streets of different cities this Friday Poland Against the ruling of the Constitutional Court contrary to the abortion for malformation of the fetus, one of the few options for a legal interruption of pregnancy in that country.
In Warsaw, the march went back to the vicinity of the residence of the leader of the ultra-conservative government party Law and Justice (PiS) and Deputy Prime Minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski. There were also concentrations near the headquarters of the Constitutional Court.
The Warsaw authorities ordered the deployment of a strong police force, after the disturbances registered on Thursday in both points, as well as at the PiS headquarters, where 15 people were arrested for disturbing public order.
The protests began shortly after the Constitutional ruling was known, which were awaited with expectation by both the pro-life anti-abortion groups, on the one hand, as well as organizations in favor of legal pregnancy and representatives of the liberal opposition, on the other.
The Polish President, Andrzej Duda, close to PiS, defended this Friday the Constitutional decision in statements, while sources from the Episcopal Conference have described it as in accordance with a country with a predominantly Catholic population.
The trigger for the mobilizations was yesterday’s court ruling that declared the interruption of pregnancy unconstitutional due to a malformation of the fetus. With this, the possibility of legal abortion has been reduced to the legal assumptions of rape, incest and serious risk to the mother’s health.
The court thus responded to the lawsuit filed three years ago by a group of MPs from PiS, Kaczynski’s party and the main Polish government formation.
The plaintiffs considered that abortion due to malformation of the fetus is a form of eugenics that does not respect human dignity and, therefore, could not have a place in the Constitution.
DEEPEN THE POLEMIC FOR THE JUDICIAL REFORM
The ruling now deepens the controversy around the Polish judiciary, strongly questioned as a result of the reform promoted by the PiS, which both the Polish opposition and the European Commission (EC) consider an attack against the separation of powers.
Brussels has opened a sanctioning process considering that this reform erodes the independence of the judiciary. Judge Julia Przylebska has been in charge of the court, in the PiS nomination.
Poland is one of the European Union (EU) countries where the right to abortion is most restrictive. The Law on family planning, protection of the human fetus and conditions for the interruption of pregnancy, in force since 1993, allowed abortion only in three cases – malformation of the fetus, rape or danger to the health of the mother.
According to data from the Ministry of Health, in 2019 only 1,110 legal abortions were performed in Poland (with almost 38 million inhabitants). Of these, the vast majority -1,074, or 96% – were carried out due to fetal malformation.
The groups for the legalization of abortion consider that the Constitutional ruling implies the practical prohibition of the interruption of pregnancy, except in very specific cases.
The PiS is clearly against legal abortion, but even among its ranks there are those who considered the current law sufficiently restrictive and unnecessary to apply more limitations to it.