Thousands rally to protest Poland's near-total abortion ban
Thousands of protesters turned out on Friday in cities across Poland following a Thursday court ruling banning almost all abortions, the BBC reports.
Why it matters: Opinion polls show a "clear majority" against further restricting abortions in the country, per BBC. Poland, a Roman Catholic country, was already said to have one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe.
Details: The ruling makes abortion illegal except when the child-bearer’s health is at risk or in cases of rape or incest.
- Abortions due to a malformed fetus are also illegal now. Such cases made up 98% of legal terminations last year.
- Less than 2,000 legal terminations are completed annually, but as many as 200,000 women seek abortions abroad or illegally to skirt restrictions, women's groups estimate.
The state of play: Protesters rallied in Krakow, Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw and other cities on Friday, broadcaster TVN reports. In Warsaw, hundreds crowded the home of Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who leads the governing Law and Justice party that launched the legal challenge.
- Some women wore long red dresses and white bonnets that evoked women's oppression from the book "The Handmaid's Tale." Others wrote the word "torture" in large letters on handheld signs.
- Law enforcement said officers deployed pepper spray and physical force after some protesters threw stones and attempted to move past police lines surrounding Kaczynski’s home.
The context: Poland’s ruling comes on the heels of the U.S. push for allies to follow its lead in ending abortion.