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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Abortion rights protests block Poland's streets

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Abortion rights protests block Poland's streets
Abortion rights protests block Poland's streets

Tens of thousands of Poles blocked city streets in cars, on bicycles and on foot on Monday on the fifth day of protests against a Constitutional Court ruling that amounts to a near-total ban on abortion in the predominantly Catholic country.

Adam Reed reports.

For the fifth consecutive day in Poland, thousands of people protested on the streets on Monday against a court ruling that amounts toa near-total ban on abortion.

Carrying banners reading "I won't be your martyr" and "I want choice, not terror," protesters gathered in several dozen towns and cities, despite restrictions on large gatherings.

Tram routes and streets were also blocked in the capital Warsaw.

It comes in response to the country's top court ruling last Thursday that abortion will be banned in the case of fetal abnormalities, and will be legal only in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to the woman's health.

For some locals, it was about what this decision means for women now and for future generations: "I have chills (when being here).

I am so sorry I need to fight for the future of my daughter.

But I cannot imagine not being here." For others they worry about the possible rise in illegal procedures.

"This law will not decrease the number of abortions.

This law will not decrease the number of aborted fetuses.

What it will do, is put women's lives in danger, because there will be less prenatal screening.

It will put children's lives in danger because they will not be tested through prenatal screenings." But it wasn't all peaceful.

Some scuffles erupted between protesters and far-right groups who broke through a police cordon, separating them in front a church elsewhere in Warsaw, prompting the police to use pepper spray.

And in the city of Wroclaw, abortion rights activists used flares.

Critics say the court has acted on behalf of the ruling party, the conservative nationalist Law and Justice government, which has in the past stepped back from efforts to tighten abortion rules.

But the party denies that.

The government has called for a halt to the protests because of the ongoing risk to public health, but more protests are planned across Poland later this week.


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