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Protesters shout slogans against police lines around the deputy prime minister's house. Photo: Wojtek Radwanski / Getty Images

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.

A protestor shows her hand written 'Get the fuck out of here' during a demonstration against a decision by the Constitutional Court on abortion law restriction, in Warsaw, Poland, on Oct. 23. Photo: JANEK SKARZYNSKI / Getty Images
Protestors attend a demonstration against a decision by the Constitutional Court on abortion law restriction, in Warsaw, Poland. Photo: JANEK SKARZYNSKI / Getty Images
Protestors face off with riot police guarding the house of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland's ruling Law and Justice party, in Warsaw on Oct. 23. Photo: WOJTEK RADWANSKI / Getty Images

Go deeper: U.S. signs anti-abortion declaration with conservative countries

Go deeper

Biden rescinds anti-abortion "global gag rule"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday rescinded the "global gag rule," a policy that bans international organizations that receive U.S. funding from providing abortion services or offering information about abortion.

Why it matters: The Reagan-era rule, also known as the Mexico City policy, has historically been rescinded or rolled back by Democratic presidents and reinstated by Republican ones. The Trump administration also expanded the rule to include virtually all global health aid.

17 mins ago - Health

First known U.S. case of the Omicron variant identified in California

PhotoL Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The first known U.S. case of the Omicron variant was detected in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: The confirmed case was detected in a traveler returning from South Africa who was fully vaccinated and has mild symptoms, according to the CDC.

Supreme Court appears likely to roll back abortion rights

Abortion rights advocates and anti-abortion protesters demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 1. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday seemed likely to weaken abortion rights and perhaps to let states ban the procedure altogether.

The intrigue: The court seemed likely to throw out the framework established in Roe v. Wade, but it wasn't clear whether a majority of the justices were inclined to overturn the court's precedents entirely.

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