Polish Parliament rejects strict abortion law

Warsaw, Oct 6 (IANS) The proposal to ban abortions in Poland appears to have collapsed after the Polish Parliament on Thursday rejected a bill that would have almost completely prohibited abortion in the country.

The move came following a mass protest when some 100,000 people, mostly women, protested on Monday against new measures that had passed initial parliamentary debates on September 23.

The government said protests against the bill had given ministers “food for thought”, BBC news reported.

The “Stop Abortion” campaign petition garnered around 450,000 signatures, warranting its government-level consideration, and sought to make abortion completely illegal, penalising both women who undertook the procedure and doctors who performed it.

However, it was not sponsored by Poland’s ruling, socially conservative Law and Justice party (PiS), and Members of Parliament were given a free vote.

The petition passed through a preliminary government debate with the support of 267 of 432 lawmakers in the Polish Parliament, Efe news reported.

Prime Minister Beata Szydlo distanced herself from a change to the law and Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin moved to reassure women on Wednesday that a total ban would not get through.

“Abortion will certainly not be banned when the woman is the victim of rape or if her life or her health is in danger,” he insisted.

Since the Law and Justice party came to power in 2015, it has been criticised by the European Union for taking control of state media appointments and for reforms to Poland’s constitutional court.

Abortion is already largely banned in Poland. The only exceptions are a severe and irreversible damage to the foetus, a serious threat to the mother’s health, or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

The Stop Abortion campaign group wanted the ban extended to cases of rape and incest.

The only exception would have been where the mother’s life was in danger.

Official data suggests that around 1,000 women have abortions every year in Poland, but feminist organisations like the Federation for Women and Family Planning believe there to be around 150,000 cases.