Polish conservatives pursue abortion ban despite mass protests


The leader of Poland’s governing right-wing party said Wednesday he still hopes to tighten the country’s abortion laws, despite parliament’s recent rejection of a proposed ban on terminations in the devoutly Catholic nation.

“We will strive to ensure that even difficult pregnancies — when the child is sure to die, severely deformed — will result in birth so that the child can be baptised, buried, and have a name,” Law and Justice (PiS) party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski told the Polish news agency PAP.

Protests by tens of thousands of black-clad women across Poland, where the abortion law is already among the most restrictive in Europe, led parliament to reject a ban on the procedure last week.

But Kaczynski refused to put the matter to rest in the PAP interview: “We will strive to ensure that there are many fewer abortions in Poland.”

Passed in 1993, the current law bans all terminations unless there was rape or incest, the pregnancy poses a health risk to the mother or the foetus is severely deformed.

The controversial bill rejected by parliamentarians — a citizens’ initiative — would have allowed abortions only if the mother’s life was at risk and would have put women who had terminations at risk of jail terms, though judges could waive incarceration.

“Currently there are around 1,000 legal abortions in Poland, a huge number of which is due to Down syndrome,” Kaczynski said.

“We hope that this will not be the case soon. That’s our goal. We have to prepare it well though. We also have to convince society, especially women, and we will do it.”

Kaczynski added however that “of course this refers only to those cases of difficult pregnancy when there is no threat to the life and health of the mother.”

In addition to the legal abortions in the country of 38 million people, women’s groups estimate that another 100,000 to 150,000 procedures are performed illegally or abroad.

© 2016 AFP

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