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Thousands protest efforts to change abortion law

Published:Sunday | April 10, 2016 | 12:00 AM
A woman holding a banner takes part in a street protest against the further tightening of Poland’s already strict anti-abortion law in Warsaw, Poland, yesterday.


Thousands of Poles rallied yesterday against tightening Poland's anti-abortion law, which is already among Europe's strictest.

Street protests were organised in Warsaw and in other Polish cities by a new pro-abortion group that opposes a recent call by some Catholic bishops for an unconditional ban on abortion in Poland, and efforts by an anti-abortion group to have the current law tightened. It was the second wave of such street protests this month.

Poland's new, conservative government promotes Catholic values and families with many children. Government leaders say that, as Catholics, they support a total ban.

Abortion is illegal in Poland except for cases when the pregnancy poses a threat to the woman's health or life, if it results from a crime like incest or rape, or if the foetus is damaged or incurably sick. The regulations were adopted in 1993 as a hard-won compromise.

Earlier this month, some bishops issued a statement condemning the law and calling for a total ban on abortion. A civic group, meanwhile, has drafted new legislation tightening the law and is taking steps to make lawmakers vote on it.

The moves have provoked a heated debate that has exposed deep divisions among Poles, who mostly declare themselves Catholic.