Thousands of people turned out in Warsaw Sunday for the latest protest against a court decision restricting the right to abortion in all but the most exceptional circumstances.
The participants, mainly women and young people, crossed the capital headed for the home of deputy prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who analysts consider was behind the Constitutional Court’s October 22 ruling.
Police tried several times to block the marchers’ route to prevent them reaching Kaczynski’s house, the target of several recent protests, before finally blocking off the street where he lives.
Already overnight, a group of farmers who accuse the government of doing nothing to stop the falling prices for their products had dumped a dead pig there and scattered potatoes and eggs across the street.
Sunday’s demonstrations took place on the 39th anniversary of Poland’s then leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski declaring martial law to crush the Solidarity trade union movement pressing for reforms.
Activists have organised a series of protests since the October court ruling that abortions due to birth defects are unconstitutional — a decision that would impose a near-total ban on terminations.
That ruling has not yet been published officially, meaning it does not apply, but doctors have been cancelling scheduled abortions for fear of falling foul of the law.
At the moment, Poland sees fewer than 2,000 legal abortions every year, according to official statistics. But women’s groups estimate that an additional 200,000 women abort either illegally or abroad.
Protesters have ignored government orders against mass gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far killed 22,000 people in Poland, a country of 38 million people.
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