Updated on October 24 at 17:31
Protesters took to the streets in Poland after the country's Constitutional Court tightened anti-abortion laws. The most massive action took place in Warsaw, about one and a half thousand people took part in it.
Kolejne osoby są pojedynczo wyciągane siłą z tłumu. Policjdalej używgazu. pic.twitter.com/2NIjFmJzo0
- Marcin Terlik (@MarcinTerlik)
October 22, 2020
On October 22, the Polish court ruled unconstitutional the provision of the 1993 abortion law, which allowed the termination of pregnancy in the event of a serious and irreversible disability of the fetus or its incurable disease. 11 out of 13 judges voted for the decision.
Sergei Grechushkin, a journalist from Poland, talks about the scale of the protests:
- The protests against the ruling Law and Justice party for the second year in a row in Warsaw, especially after the first elections, when the party won, were much larger. More than 100 thousand people took to the streets. But they ended in absolutely nothing, except that they just passed. The protests against the ban on abortion are far from the first, there have already been several and much larger ones. There, too, several tens of thousands of people came out. It is difficult to assess whether these were protests specifically related to abortion or were protests against the Law and Justice Party. There have been no pronounced postulates in the protests in Poland in recent years. The decision of the Constitutional Court could have been expected, but nevertheless no one had planned the protests in advance.
- There are also reports that the police used gas.
- Isolated cases of gas use very often occur at almost any manifestation. I do not see any malicious intent either on the part of the police or on the part of the protesters.
- Did the people in masks come out, kept a social distance? The restrictions apply.
- According to the law, in principle, the police had every reason to disperse these protesters. Everything went more or less peacefully. According to the current regulations - in Warsaw they have been operating for two weeks now - mass events are prohibited.
According to statistics, in recent years in Poland, 98% of legal abortions were carried out precisely because of fetal illness. In total, about a thousand legal abortions were performed in the country, while, according to human rights defenders, from 80 thousand to 120 thousand residents of the country annually leave to terminate their pregnancies abroad.
The reason for this decision is unclear, says Maria Strelbitskaya, an activist of the informal group "Women's Freedom" in Poland.
- Nobody can understand why this is. Now it is because a pandemic, and it can be done through the Supreme Court, not through parliament. In principle, this power has been holding for the second term, they are sitting in parliament. Now they are starting to lose their rating, so they are somehow trying, probably, to implement their projects that they did not manage to do in the last six to seven years in power. Including, this is again some kind of another concession to the church, because the church with all its hands and feet is for such a decision. Maybe in this way the authorities are trying to give something to the church. There is little logic in the actions of our government at the moment. Our Minister of Health said: "Masochki do not work." And two weeks later he ordered everyone to wear masks even on the street. It was in the spring.
- Are the authorities appealing somehow to the fact that the birth rate has been reduced?
- We have no population growth. We are dying. And our government several years ago came up with the "500+" program for every second, third, and so on. Moreover, for a little over a year they have been giving 500+ even for the first child. And there were already reports that it did not give anything at all. People do not give birth for 500 zlotys or 120 euros.We are not even talking about an increase in the birth rate, because those fetuses that cannot now be aborted will not be children. Perhaps, with some rare exceptions, a person can live with Down syndrome, but he will not live with Patau's syndrome.
Since 1993, there has been a law in Poland that prohibits the termination of pregnancy without medical indications - that is, a confirmed fact of danger to the life and health of the mother, as well as in the case of a diagnosis of an incurable disease in the fetus that can lead to the imminent death of the child. Abortion is also allowed if the woman becomes pregnant after being raped. In general, anti-abortion legislation in Poland was already one of the most stringent in Europe.
In total, about a thousand legal abortions have been carried out in Poland in recent years. According to human rights activists, from 80,000 to 120,000 women in the country go abroad to have abortions every year.