‘Save Women’ rally in Poland against near-total abortion ban


Dressed in black, thousands of protesters gathered Saturday outside the Polish parliament in Warsaw to protest against a proposed near-total ban on abortion in devoutly Catholic Poland.

At the rally, called by the “Save Women” pro-choice coalition, people waved black flags and banners saying “Stop the fanatics in power” and “We need doctors, not police”.

The governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, which controls parliament, has proposed a bill that would allow terminations only if the mother’s life is at risk and increase the maximum jail term for practitioners from two to five years.

Poland’s influential Catholic Church gave the initiative its seal of approval earlier this year, though its bishops have since opposed jailing women.

“I am really angry about these guys in suits who want to make decisions about the lives of people who find themselves sometimes in unbearable situations,” Anna Blumsztajn, a high school teacher, told AFP at the demonstration.

The “Save Women” group says it has been collecting signatures in favour of a European legislative initiative guaranteeing access to legal abortion, sex education and contraception.

The defenders of abortion rights have also raised the idea of a “women’s strike” on Monday, calling on women not to go to work, dress in black and participate in protests across the country.

Although the PiS party generally favours banning abortion, its leaders are well aware that most Poles support the existing legislation, already among the most restrictive in Europe.

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.

A poll last month by the Newsweek Polska magazine showed that 74 percent of Poles want to keep the existing law.

© 2016 AFP

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