New protests as Polish court seals divisive abortion ruling

International

People gather in Warsaw, Poland Wednesday Jan. 27, 2021 to protest after the country’s top court on Wednesday confirmed its highly divisive ruling that will further tighten the predominantly Catholic nation’s strict anti-abortion law. The Constitutional Tribunal published the justification of its decision, which means it can now be officially printed and take immediate effect. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — New protests broke out in Polish cities Wednesday, shortly after the country’s top court confirmed its highly divisive ruling that will further tighten the predominantly Catholic nation’s strict anti-abortion law.

The Constitutional Tribunal published the justification of its decision, which means it can now be officially printed and take immediate effect. The printing was expected later Wednesday.

Opposition parties strongly criticized the move.

Thousands of people gathered outside the court building in Warsaw late Wednesday, responding to calls for new protests by women’s groups that led weeks of massive demonstrations last year against the initial Oct. 22 ruling. Protests were also held in many other cities, under a heavy police presence.

In Warsaw, protesters later marched through the city center to the ruling party’s headquarters with signs of the leading “Women’s Strike” group and pro-LGBT rights rainbow flags. Like in last year’s demonstrations, they defied Poland’s pandemic ban on gatherings.

No violence was reported on either side. Last year’s marches — some of which led to clashes with police — were highly critical of the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party.

The main opposition Civic Platform party condemned the court’s move as “a provocation” by Law and Justice.

“The government is trying to cover up its incompetence (in dealing with the pandemic) and is doing that in a cynical way,” Civic Platform leader Borys Budka tweeted.

Another opposition leader, Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz, tweeted urging the government to “save the economy, don’t set Poland ablaze.”

The court ruling bans the abortion of fetuses with congenital defects, and critics argue that it narrows the already tight law to a near total ban of abortions. It was made in response to a motion from over 100 ruling party lawmakers, whose names have not been made public.

Termination of pregnancy will now be allowed only if the woman’s health is threatened or if the pregnancy is the result of a criminal act, such as rape or incest.

Until now, congenital defects were the reason behind most legal abortions in Poland.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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