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Poles protest one year after court ruling restricted abortion rights

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Poles took to the streets on Friday night to mark the one year anniversary of a constitutional court ruling that restricted abortion rights in Poland in October 2020.

Protests were held in Warsaw and other cities but numbers were far smaller than the demonstrations that followed last year’s ruling, the biggest in three decades since the end of Communism.

In last year’s ruling, the court declared that abortion due to fetal abnormalities — even in the case of fetuses so badly damaged they would die at birth — is not constitutional.

In practice, it meant a near-total ban on abortion in the traditionally Catholic central European nation. The only legal abortions can now be performed in cases of rape or incest, or if the woman’s life is at risk.

The protests were organized by Women’s Strike, an organisation struggling to achieve reproductive freedom for women. They were planned in 20 cities.

Members of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, which is aligned with the Roman Catholic Church, had sought the new restriction. They argued that one aim was to prevent the abortion of fetuses with Down syndrome, which had made up a significant share of the legal abortions in Poland until then.

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