Warsaw, 30 October 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Poland is gearing up for the largest protest yet against a recent top court ruling that tightens abortion laws, with protesters from across the country expected to demonstrate in Warsaw late Friday.
Daily protests have swept many Polish cities since a ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal on October 22 declaring that abortions due to irreversible congenital defects are illegal, as they violate the constitutional guarantee of protecting the life of every individual.
The ruling would effectively introduce a ban on abortions. Congenital defects were the reason behind almost all of the around 1,100 legal abortions carried out in Poland last year.
The Friday demonstration is expected to start at 5 pm (1600 GMT) at three points in the Polish capital.
“We expect a large protest,” said Marta Lempart from the Nationwide Women’s Strike, a non-governmental organization which is the main organizer of recent demonstrations.
The protesters’ ire has been directed at the governing Law and Justice party (PiS) and its leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Many see the Constitutional Tribunal as a politicized body under his influence.
The main goal of the Women’s Strike is the resignation of the Polish government, Lempart said. The organization also wants the Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling to be declared invalid due to what they see as the court’s subjugation to the executive power.
Consultations will be held on further demands the movement wants to present.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki urged people not to protest because of a recent spike in new coronavirus cases.
“Let us not allow irresponsible behaviour of some to harm the elderly, the weakest [and] public services engaged in combatting the pandemic,” Morawiecki wrote on social media on Friday.
On Friday, Poland reported over 21,000 new coronavirus cases, the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic.
The state prosecution meanwhile issued a circular to prosecutors, urging a strict approach towards those who create a health risk, as gatherings of more than five people are currently banned.
However, the Nationwide Women’s Strike showed no intention of backing down.
“If one of us is attacked by the oppressive system of [Justice Minister Zbigniew] Ziobro, he will have to deal with us all,” Klementyna Suchanow from the Women’s Strike said on Thursday.
At the same time, the organizers of the protests repeatedly called for the protesters to wear masks, keep distance between each other whenever possible and use disinfectant.