The protests returned to the streets of Poland’s biggest cities on Wednesday evening, after the government announced another measure to make abortion nearly impossible in the country. The trigger was the publication of the Constitutional Court’s justifications for the ruling banning termination of pregnancy for severe fetal malformation in October.
The government announced that this would allow publication of the verdict in the Gazette, consolidating the ban into law.
With the new restriction, abortion will be allowed in cases of rape, incest and when the mother’s life is in danger, which is only 2.4% of the 1,100 legal abortions performed in Poland in 2019. Even before the ruling of the Polish main court, the country already had one of the most restrictive abortion rules in the European Union.
The current abortion legislation has been passed by the majority of the population and previous attempts to toughen it up have sparked protests in several Polish cities. After the October decision, there were weeks of protests organized by groups opposing the government, made up mainly of women and young people.
The protests have led the ruling party, Droit et Justice (PiS), to postpone the publication of the verdict in the official journal (which turns it into law), creating a legal vacuum. The British Guardian newspaper reported that many Polish women have started traveling abroad to have abortions, as doctors are unsure of the legality of the practice.
On Wednesday evening, the independent Polsat television channel broadcast footage of protests in Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz and Poznan, among other major cities. Participants carry banners calling for “Freedom of choice instead of terror” or declaring “This is war”, in addition to the flags of the LGBT movements and the feminist strike for women. Some protesters wore bandanas and green scarves, in reference to pro-abortion protests in Argentina. There was no estimate of the number of gifts.
Polish society is increasingly polarized between progressive metropolitan centers and conservative small rural towns. Despite the split, the conservative right narrowly won the presidential election last year, confirming the power gained in the 2015 general election, when the PiS came to power. Since then, the acronym has implemented reforms to increase control over the judiciary, resulting in a European Union investigation, which is still ongoing, and the country’s declining rankings on democratic freedom.
At the Constitutional Court (the equivalent of the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil), which ruled on the biggest restriction on abortion, 11 of the 12 judges were appointed by the ruling party and the president of the court, Julia Przylebska , is part of the strong inner circle of man, country, Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.