The leader of Poland’s governing Law and Justice (PiS) party has said he still hopes to tighten the country’s abortion law despite parliament recently rejecting a proposal to ban terminations in all but extreme circumstances.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski told the PAP news agency: “We will strive to ensure that even difficult pregnancies — when the child is sure to die, severely deformed — will result in birth so that the child can be baptised, buried, and have a name.”
Passed in 1993, the current law bans all terminations unless there was rape or incest, the pregnancy poses a health risk to the mother or the foetus is severely deformed.
A citizens’ initiative would have tightened the law even further, allowing abortions only if the mother’s life was at risk. Women who had illegal terminations could have faced prison, although judges could waive incarceration.
“We will strive to ensure that there are many fewer abortions in Poland,” Mr Kaczynski said, adding: “Currently there are around 1,000 legal abortions in Poland, a huge number of which is due to Down syndrome.”
“We hope that this will not be the case soon. That’s our goal. We have to prepare it well though. We also have to convince society, especially women, and we will do it.”
Kaczynski added however that “of course this refers only to those cases of difficult pregnancy when there is no threat to the life and health of the mother.”
Feminists and abortion lobbyists took to the streets dressed in black to protest the changes, while pro-life leaders organised all-white counter-protests.
Pro-abortion campaigners also called on women to go on “strike” by refusing to cook, clean and have sex with their husbands, a suggestion criticised as sexist.
AFP contributed to this report