Thousands of people in Poland protested last night over restrictive new abortion laws.
On Thursday, the High Court banned almost all abortions with exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or where the mother’s health is at risk. Abortions carried out in the case of fetal abnormality have been outlawed. Last year, these abortions accounted for 98% of all carried out in the EU state.
Poland previously had some of the EU’s strictest abortion laws and between 1000 and 2000 are carried out each year. Women’s rights groups say that up to 200,000 are carried out abroad or illegally.
Protests took place in the country’s big cities such as Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw, and Krakow despite COVID-19 measures that ban gatherings of more than 10 people.
There were reports of police using pepper spray and physical force to restrain protestors in Warsaw. Police in riot gear were also present.
Poland’s top court ruled that abortions in the case of fetal defects were unconstitutional.
Removing the basis for almost all legal abortions in #Poland amounts to a ban & violates #HumanRights. Today’s ruling of the Constitutional Court means underground/abroad abortions for those who can afford & even greater ordeal for all others. A sad day for #WomensRights.
— Commissioner for Human Rights (@CommissionerHR) October 22, 2020
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic tweeted that banning almost all legal abortions was a violation of. human rights.
Abortion is legal throughout Europe except for Malta where it is illegal under any circumstance.