Thousands protest against proposed abortion ban in Warsaw

Thousands of people took to the streets in Warsaw on Saturday to protest a proposed tightening of Poland's abortion legislation.

A women's association had organized the demonstration in response to a draft bill for a total ban on abortions due to be discussed in parliament.

Both Poland's national-conservative Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski had said they backed the total ban demanded by a grassroots campaign in the catholic country.

A protester on Saturday held up a picture of Szydlo with the caption: "There is a special place in hell for women who don't support other women."

The crowds, which included many young women as well as families and children, demanded a liberalization of existing law, to prevent pregnant women from risking their lives through illegal terminations.

Polish law currently allows for abortion in cases of rape, if the foetus is severely disabled or if the pregnancy endangers the mother's life.

Protesters' banners in Warsaw read: "Moje cialo. Moj wybor." ("My body. My decision.")

"The law wants to turn us into incubators by taking away our right to make our own decisions," said lawmaker Joanna Augustynowska of the liberal-conservative opposition party Nowoczesna.

Many protesters were also holding metal clothes hangers - a symbol of illegal abortions.

"We are also here for the young women from small towns, the women who don't have the money to pay for a safe termination in Germany or elsewhere," a spokeswoman for the women's association said.

She added that a lack of sex education and access to contraception were among the causes of unwanted pregnancies, especially among minors.

An estimated 100,000 Polish women travel abroad each year to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. In 2015, Poland recorded fewer than 1,000 legal abortions.

Last update: Sat, 09/04/2016 - 18:42

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