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World

Thousands of Poles Protest Efforts to Change Abortion Law

Country already has one of Europe's strictest abortion policies

Women holding slogans take part in a street protest against further tightening of Poland’s already strict anti-abortion law in Warsaw, Photo: AP/Czarek Sokolowski
2 years ago

WARSAW, Poland — Thousands of Poles rallied Saturday against tightening Poland’s anti-abortion law, which is already among Europe’s strictest.

A woman holds coat hangers, a symbol of illegal, life threatening abortions, takes part in a street protest against steps that could lead to the tightening of Poland’s already strict anti-abortion law in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday, April 9, 2016. Similar protests were also organized in other cities by a new pro-abortion group that opposes steps by some of Poland’s Catholic bishops and an anti-abortion organization to introduce an unconditional ban on abortion in Poland. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

A woman holds coat hangers, a symbol of illegal, life threatening abortions, takes part in a street protest against steps that could lead to the tightening of Poland’s already strict anti-abortion law. Photo: AP/Czarek Sokolowski

Street protests were organized in Warsaw and in other Polish cities by a new pro-abortion group that opposes a recent call by some Catholic bishops for an unconditional ban on abortion in Poland, and efforts by an anti-abortion group to have the current law tightened. It was the second wave of such street protests this month.

Poland’s new, conservative government promotes Catholic values and families with many children. Government leaders say that, as Catholics, they support a total ban.

A woman holding a banner takes part in a street protest against the further tightening of Poland’s already strict anti-abortion law in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday, April 9, 2016. Similar protests were also organized in other cities by a new pro-abortion group that opposes steps by some of Poland’s Catholic bishops and an anti-abortion organization to introduce an unconditional ban on abortion in Poland. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

A woman holding a banner takes part in a street protest against the further tightening of Poland’s already strict anti-abortion law. Photo: AP/Czarek Sokolowski

Abortion is illegal in Poland except for cases when the pregnancy poses a threat to the woman’s health or life, if it results from a crime like incest or rape or if the fetus is damaged or incurably sick. The regulations were adopted in 1993 as a hard-won compromise.

Earlier this month, some bishops issued a statement condemning the law and calling for a total ban on abortion. A civic group, meanwhile, has drafted new legislation tightening the law and is taking steps to make lawmakers vote on it.

The moves have provoked a heated debate that has exposed deep divisions among Poles, who mostly declare themselves Catholic.

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