Polish protesters rally against ruling that limits abortion | DW

Poles protest change in law that could see almost all abortions banned

Poland is seeing a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, with new infections hitting a daily record of 13,632 on Friday.

After the tribunal's decision goes into effect, women will be able to terminate a pregnancy only in the case of rape or incest or a threat to their health.

However, this last clause was challenged and repealed yesterday, prohibiting abortion in most cases and making terminations of pregnancy more hard for Polish women. Those cases made up only 2% of abortions in 2019, as Poland's laws were already unusually stringent for a European country.

Human-rights groups and opposition lawmakers have slammed the challenge, saying it's part of a half-decade-long assault against women's rights that included the government's attempt to ban abortions outright in 2016.

Thousands also took to the streets in the cities of Poznan, Wroclaw and Krakow, footage from private broadcaster TVN showed.

Police vans and units in riot gear were dispatched Friday to guard the Warsaw home of the leader of Poland's right-wing ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Police said they were responding to protesters throwing stones and eggs at the officers.

Elsewhere in the country, demonstrators gathered in main squares, near churches and outside PiS buildings. "In a few days, hell for women will begin in this country", reads the Facebook event description for a protest planned this weekend in the city of Gdańsk, according to the Guardian. "No-one is listening to us".

She added: "It is a disgrace to the Polish state, and it is cruelty to women".

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The Constitutional Tribunal, whose mandate is questioned by the European Union after controversial overhauls carried out by Law & Justice, ruled in favor of parliamentarians from the conservative political movement who contested the law. It said legislation allowing for the abortion of malformed foetuses was "incompatible" with the constitution.

The issue was resurfaced late past year by a group of Law and Justice and right-wing MPs.

Opponents say the Constitutional Tribunal may have acted on the ruling party's behalf.

The Polish presidency and Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, the head of the Polish Episcopal Conference, welcomed the verdict.

The protesters, who were supported by the far-right parliamentary coalition Confederation, denied the existence of the pandemic and criticised the restriction of their freedoms.

Although Poland is one of Europe's most staunchly Roman Catholic countries, opinion polls suggest there is a clear majority against making the abortion law stricter, the BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw reports.

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic called it a "sad day for women's rights".

Donald Tusk, a Pole who now leads the European People's Party after presiding the European Council, called the timing of the abortion issue "political wickedness".

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