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A controversial near-total ban on abortion in Poland

A contentious near-total ban on abortion in Poland went into effect late Wednesday, despite rampant opposition from hundreds of thousands of Poles who began protesting in the fall in the largest demonstrations in the country since the 1989 collapse of communism.
 Abortions for foetal abnormalities – which is a most common reason for termination in Poland – now officially violate the country’s Constitution as the government announced the new ruling allowing the prohibition of almost all abortions, with only a few exemptions to the rule, last year and is now effective as of midnight on Wednesday.

The ruling provoked outrage from supporters of the right to abortion. But Poland’s conservative government, which has strong ties to the country’s powerful Catholic Church, supports the ruling.

The tribunal’s Chief Justice, Julia Przylebska, said at the time that allowing such abortions was akin to “eugenic practices concerning an unborn child, thus denying it the respect and protection of human dignity.” She added that aborting a pregnancy due to the health of the foetus was “a directly forbidden form of discrimination.”

In 2019, 98% of abortions were carried out on those grounds, meaning that the ruling effectively banned the vast majority of pregnancy terminations. A court ruling allowing the prohibition prompted huge protests when it was issued in October. Abortion is now allowed only in cases of rape or incest or when the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother.

Protester Gabriela Stepniak shared, “I want us to have our basic rights, the right to decide about our bodies, the right to decide what we want to do and if we want to bear children and in what circumstances to have children.”

“I want us to have our basic rights, the right to decide about our bodies, the right to decide what we want to do and if we want to bear children and in what circumstances to have children,” one protester, Gabriela Stepniak shared.

The mayor of Warsaw has also voiced his opposition on Twitter, calling on women to reject the decision on the streets. “No law-abiding government should respect this ruling,” Borys Budka, leader of Poland’s largest opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform shared.

By Karishma Gwalani

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