Nov 3, 2020 - World

Polish government delays abortion ban due to protests

Protests in Warsaw. Photo: Omar Marques/Getty Images

Poland's conservative government has delayed the implementation of a ruling that would ban abortion in nearly all cases after two weeks of protests across the country.

Why it matters: The constitutional court ruling would make abortion illegal except in cases of rape, incest or a risk to the life of the mother. The motion sparked daily protests, with tens of thousands marching through major cities.

  • Poland's abortion laws were already among the strictest in Europe before the court ruled that fetuses with congenital defects could not be aborted.
  • That ruling doesn't have legal standing until it's formally published, and the government has delayed that step due to the protests — (the delay is itself controversial for a government that has been accused of undermining the judiciary).

Driving the news: Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has called for dialogue with the protesters and opposition.

  • “There is a discussion going on, and it would be good to take some time for dialogue and for finding a new position in this situation that is difficult and stirs high emotions,” his office said in a statement.
  • President Andrzej Duda has proposed a new law that would only allow abortions in cases where the fetus has a life-threatening defect — a proposal that's unlikely to appease protesters.
  • The leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, Jarosław Kaczyński, has taken a harder line. He denounced the protesters and called on his party's backers to defend churches from vandalism "at all costs" — rhetoric some claimed was fomenting violence.

What to watch: Law and Justice is falling in the polls amid the standoff and a second wave of COVID-19, per Bloomberg.

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