A week in, protests don’t cease after top court abortion ruling.

Protesters block the streets during a protest against the tightening of the abortion law in Plock, Poland, 26 October 2020. [EPA-EFE/SZYMON LABINSKI]

Thousands of people protested across the country on Wednesday afternoon, most of whom gathered in the cities of Warsaw, Łódź, Cracow and Wrocław. Wednesday marked a week of protests following the Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling last Thursday (22 October) that rendered existing laws that allow abortions due to foetal defects unconstitutional.

By the evening, members of right-wing groups and football hooligans targeted protests in some of the cities such as Wroclaw and attacked women who took part in the protests.

Ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) leader and deputy prime minister Jarosław Kaczyński said on Wednesday that those taking part in pro-choice protests and opposition politicians were “criminals”. The day before (27 October), he had urged PiS supporters to “defend the Catholic Church” against protesters in a video posted on Facebook.

“During the pandemic, there should not be any public gatherings. You can be criminally prosecuted for inspiring these protests”, he told the Polish parliament.

Poland’s episcopacy issued a statement, calling for a “dialogue” and for views to be expressed in a “non-violent way”. “We need to respect everyone’s dignity”, the statement read.

President Andrzej Duda, who spoke for the first time since the protests started, said he understood the women protesting.

“Just after the court verdict I was very satisfied with it but presumed that the Constitutional Court would give us more time to amend the law in a way that clarifies the premises for a legal abortion in case a foetus is heavily and irretrievably damaged. So now I do understand protesting women,” said Poland’s president in a television interview.

(Anna Wolska | EURACTIV.pl)

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