: Proposed abortion ban splits opinion in Poland
Society16:10 Apr. 6, 2016

Proposed abortion ban splits opinion in Poland

On April 3 thousands took to streets in Warsaw to protest the ban

Poland's already restrictive abortion laws may be further tightened to include a complete ban on all pregnancy terminations.

The move which follows calls by Polish Catholic bishops with backing of the ruling conservatives has sparked protests by pro-choice advocates. Last Sunday thousands attended a rally outside parliament in Warsaw to protests the ban.

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"Basically, the abortion law in Iran is more liberal than this new project, so we have to protest," demonstrator Marta Nowak says.

Poland already has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the European Union. Official statistics show only several hundred abortions are performed every year, but pro-choice campaigners say underground abortions are very common.

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"The Polish government right now has given support to a terrible and barbaric act that will totally ban abortion in Poland and also make it a criminal offence for the women who not only undertake an abortion but also just have miscarriage and this might mean persecution for them and this is a completely barbaric act and we cannot allow this to happen in the European Union," demonstration organiser from the "Razem" party Jakub Danecki says.

The debate around reproductive rights has been building up for months. The ruling conservative Law and Justice party plans to tighten regulations to bring them into line with the Catholic Church's teachings, infuriating liberals and women's rights activists.

"I think what's going on right now is just too much. It's just too much, I think we are fighting for our basic rights, so we have to fight for it and we cannot let fanatics to take our rights," says demonstrator Paulina Antoniewicz. 

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Poland currently allows terminating pregnancy only at an early stage and when it threatens the life or health of the mother, when the baby is likely to be permanently handicapped or when pregnancy originates from a crime, for example rape or incest.

A letter was read out in churches across the country last Sunday in Polish bishops called for legislative action to tighten regulation. A number of videos uploaded to social media show people walking out of Sunday mass in Churches around Poland, in a sign of protest against the proposed law.

According to data released by the Poland's Central Statistical Office, 92,8 percent of Poles are Catholics, but less than 50 percent attend church on a regular basis.


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