Thousands of people in several cities turned out to protest Poland’s effective abortion ban on Monday evening, the fifth consecutive day of demonstrations since the law was changed.
In Warsaw, protesters blocked several major roundabouts and a bridge over the Vistula river at rush hour. Protesters carried posters saying “Hell for women” and “We want the choice,” according to images broadcast by TVN24 news channel.
Warsaw’s liberal mayor Rafal Trzaskowski called on protesters to avoid provocation, saying, “Your anger should not lead you to actions that harm innocent people,” according to news agency PAP.
People also blocked roads in Krakow, Poznan and Wroclaw.
Last week, a ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal declared abortions due to congenital defects of the foetus illegal under the constitution. The ruling effectively brings Poland close to a blanket ban on pregnancy terminations.
Abortion will be legal only if the pregnancy poses a threat to the life or health of the mother or when it is the result of a prohibited act such as rape or incest.
Foetal defects – defined in law as a “severe and irreversible foetal defect or incurable illness that threatens the foetus’ life,” including such conditions as Down’s syndrome – accounted for almost all legal abortions performed in the country last year.
However, this regulation violates the right to life guaranteed in the constitution, the court decided, based on a complaint brought by conservative lawmakers.