Polish Government Responds to Biggest Protests in Decades

Implementation of harsh abortion ruling delayed
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2020 6:50 PM CST
Polish Government Responds to Biggest Protests in Decades
Protesters hold signs reading in Polish "women's strike" as they block a crossing in downtown Warsaw, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020.   (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

After two weeks of the biggest protests since the fall of the country's Communist government in 1989, the Polish government appears to be ready to change course on a ruling that would have resulted in a near-total ban on abortions. The country's government has indefinitely delayed the publishing of a Constitutional Court ruling that declared aborting fetuses with congenital defects is unconstitutional, the New York Times reports. The ruling does not come into force until it is published. "There is a discussion going on, and it would be good to take some time for dialogue and for finding a new position in this situation that is difficult and stirs high emotions," said Michal Dworczyk, the head of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki's office, per the AP.

Hundreds of thousands of people have joined protests every day since the Oct. 22 ruling. If the ruling is implemented, abortion will only be allowed in cases of incest or rape or when there is a threat to the mother's health. The Times notes that fetal abnormalities were the reason for 1,074 of the 1,100 legal abortions in Poland last year. The Guardian reports that the scale of protests appeared to surprise the ruling right-wing Law and Justice Party, which appointed 14 of the 15 justices on the Constitutional Court. President Andrzej Duda has proposed that the ruling be eased to allow the abortion of fetuses with "lethal" abnormalities but not in the case of conditions like Down syndrome, though lawmakers on either side of the debate are not expected to back the move. (Read more Poland stories.)

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