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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Poland Women Protests Against Ban On Abortion


Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin has said
proposals put before parliament for a near-total ban on
abortion will not be implemented.
A citizens' bill backed by the Catholic Church aims to ban all
abortions unless the mother's life is at risk.
State-run radio quoted Mr Gowin as saying that a
nationwide protest on Monday against the proposals had
given the government "food for thought".
Prime Minister Beata Szydlo has also distanced the
government from the bill.
"I want to state very clearly that the PiS [Law and Justice]
government is not working on any legislation changing the
rules on abortion in Poland," Ms Szydlo told a news
conference on Tuesday.
The bill came from an anti-abortion citizens' initiative that
gathered some 450,000 signatures.
'Food for thought'
Poland's socially conservative government has a majority in
parliament but the bill is not sponsored by the government
and all MPs will have a free vote.
The deputy prime minister told Radio Koszalin in northern
Poland that the current abortion exceptions would remain.
"I want to reassure those who fear that in Poland abortion
will be completely prohibited," he said.
"A total ban certainly won't get through. Abortion will
certainly not be banned when the woman is the victim of
rape or if her life or her health is in danger," he added.
He said Monday's protest "gave us food for thought and
certainly taught us humility", in an interview hours before
the European Parliament was due to discuss the Polish
proposals.

The government softens its stance - Adam Easton,
BBC News, Warsaw
Poland's foreign minister, Witold Wasczykowski, belittled
Monday's nationwide protest, calling it marginal and making
a mockery of important issues.
But faced with such widespread opposition, Poland's
governing right-wing Law and Justice party, has softened its
stance.
It has also dropped a plan to write its own bill that would
further restrict the country's abortion law.
It seems likely that the current 23-year-old compromise,
which only allows the procedure in cases of rape or incest,
or when the health of the mother or foetus is endangered,
will remain in place.
On Monday, 100,000 women took to the streets of the
capital city, Warsaw, as well as in Gdansk, Lodz, Wroclaw,
Krakow and elsewhere in the mostly Catholic nation.
Demonstrations were also held in solidarity in other
European cities, including Berlin, Brussels, Duesseldorf,
Belfast, London and Paris.
If the citizens' bill is passed, abortion would only be possible
if the woman's life were in danger. Women found to have
had abortions would be punished with a five-year prison
term. Doctors found to have assisted in an abortion would
also be liable for jail time.
A recent Ipsos opinion poll suggests the vast majority of
Poles do not want a more restrictive abortion law, with only
11% favouring that option.
Almost half said that existing legislation should remain
unchanged, while more than a third said abortion should be
more widely available.
Even by conservative estimates there are far more illegal
than legal abortions in Poland - between 10,000 and
150,000, compared with about 1,000 or 2,000 legal
terminations.
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