Poland protests: abortion court decision must be overturned

WARSAW, POLAND – Polish Prime Minister on Monday called for talks with leaders of the massive protests that were sparked by last month’s tightening of strict national abortion law and are continuing despite a resurgence of COVID-19 .

Just hours before the start of the latest round of national marches on Monday, right-wing head of government Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki made a video appeal to protesters and opposition leaders.

“I ask you to sit down together to discuss. Let our arguments not take place in the streets and be the cause of more infections, ”Morawiecki said.

The call did not stop protesters with placards calling for the right to abortion from blocking streets and roundabouts in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, and other cities like Krakow and Bialystok for the 12th consecutive day.

Earlier Monday, a leader of the protests said the disputed court ruling that public anger had sparked must be withdrawn.

Klementyna Suchanow, leader of the women’s rights organization Women’s Strike, said more protests will take place during the week, despite a ban on public gatherings of more than five people due to the pandemic of coronavirus. Poland reported nearly 15,780 new cases on Monday.

Hundreds of thousands of people have demonstrated nationwide daily since October 22, when a constitutional court banned abortions of fetuses with birth defects, further reducing one of the world’s most abortion laws. European restrictions in this predominantly Catholic country.

When it is published and takes effect, the court ruling will mean that an abortion is only allowed in Poland when a pregnancy threatens the health of the mother or is the result of a crime such as rape or incest. .

“The decision of the so-called Constitutional Court must be withdrawn,” Suchanow said, stressing that the legal status of the court itself was in dispute.

Critics question the independence of the court after the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party put its loyalists to court shortly after coming to power in 2015. Some say the ruling was a violation of the law .

Suchanow said Poland’s abortion law needed liberalization, but admitted this might not be possible under the current Conservative government, which has a slim majority in the lower house of parliament.

Support for the ruling party began to wane even before the abortion decision. Measures taken by the government to control the justice system, a new animal rights law and remarks against LGBT rights by senior officials have created political divisions and sparked protests.

Some surveys show that most people want party leader and deputy prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski to step down, especially after calling on supporters last week to counter protesters and defend churches against attacks.

Suchanow said she did not blame protesters who at one point last month disrupted masses or sprayed graffiti on churches, saying leaders of the influential Polish Catholic Church should hear their voices criticism of believers.

Demonstrations were also planned by health workers who claim that their sector is poorly organized and has reached its limits in the fight against the coronavirus.

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