Poland’s abortion laws were already among the strictest in Europe, but the Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling will mean an almost total ban.
Once the law comes into effect, abortions will only be allowed in cases of rape or incest, or if the mother’s health is at risk.
These cases only make up around 2% of legal terminations conducted in recent years.
On Thursday evening demonstrators gathered in Warsaw outside the home of deputy prime minister Jarosław Kacyński, where police used pepper spray against the demonstrators and detained 15 people. And in Łódź, a “funeral for women’s rights” was planned for Friday night.
Despite the country banning public gatherings to just five people and closing all bars and restaurants for two weeks as cases rise, protests are still planned for across Poland this weekend. Many planning to attend have said they will observe social distancing measures.
Malgorzata Szulecka, a lawyer for the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, told the BBC: “This is a totally unjustified decision that will lead to inhuman treatment of women.”
Poland joins Malta as the only other EU country to severely limit access to abortions.
Restricting abortions doesn’t stop abortions, it just makes them unsafe, more expensive and inaccessible for many. Poland had just over 1,000 legal terminations in 2019 and human rights groups say tens of thousands of women go abroad for abortions every year.
Sources: BBC News, Sky News and The Guardian.