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Polish Constitutional Tribunal justifies near-total abortion ban ruling. Thousands protest

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On Wednesday, January 27 Polish Constitutional Tribunal published the justification of the sentence declared on October 22 regarding legality of abortion in case of foetal defects.

Protests, social media storms and acts of civil disobedience have been happening ever since. Although, as the critical COVID-19 situation in Poland proceeded mid-November, the streets emptied.

The people still posted their support towards the All-Poland Women’s Strike on social media. The leaders of the movement held press conferences, but there were no major manifestations.

As the Constitutional Tribunal justified its ruling, demonstrations started again. The streets of 47 major Polish cities welcomed protesters carrying flares with anti-government and pro-choice banners.

Protests in Warsaw. Flares and LGBT pride flags are carried. A woman is holding a banner addressing the ruling party leader: “Jarek get up, you sh*t your pants”. Credit: Spacerowiczka via Facebook (facebook.com/123spacerowicze).

The Constitutional Tribunal crisis dates back to 2015 and 2016. The then newly elected ruling party, Law & Justice, changed the composition of the judges sitting in the tribunal, despite the previous judges’ tenure not being over.

The new judges had connections to the ruling party and were considered loyalists. The public was anxious, saying Law & Justice “seized control” over the Constitutional Tribunal.

That is why people are now blaming the ruling party and the judges of the tribunal for the near-total abortion ban.

Moreover, Law & Justice is a known supporter of the Catholic Church and vice versa. The Catholic Church strictly forbids any type of abortion. This makes people speculate the corruption and influence of the Church on the tribunal’s decision.

Pro-life activists, nationalists and the police in front of St Alexander’s Church in Warsaw.
Credit: Spacerowiczka via Facebook (facebook.com/123spacerowicze).

The Tribunal justifies its decision to rule abortion in case of foetal defects unconstitutional by saying new life begins in the moment of conception. Therefore, every foetus is considered a person.

They cite Article 38 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, which states that every human’s life must be legally protected by the state.

Man spraying slogans on the street. Credit: Przemysław Stefaniak.

Many public figures expressed support for the protests, including a European Parliament Member Terry Reintke, who published a video on Twitter addressing Polish women: “You’re standing on the shoulders of brave and courageous women who have fought this fight for many years.”

She continued: “You are now in the front line of their legacy, defending your bodies, defending your rights. We stand in solidarity.”

“War” written on a pole referring to the phrase “this is war”, one of the main slogans of the strike.
Credit: Spacerowiczka via Facebook (facebook.com/123spacerowicze)

Featured image credit: Przemysław Stefaniak

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