Poles join strike as protests against abortion ruling expand

Full Screen
1 / 10

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A women's rights activist with a poster of the Women's Strike action protests in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020 against recent tightening of Poland's restrictive abortion law. Massive nationwide protests have been held ever since a top court ruled Thursday that abortions due to fetal congenital defects are unconstitutional. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW – People across Poland stayed off their jobs and huge crowds poured onto the streets for a seventh straight day of protests Wednesday, enraged over a top court ruling that bans abortions in cases of fetal abnormalities.

Tens of thousands of people, gathering in defiance of pandemic restrictions, vented their frustration about the abortion ruling and more broadly at perceived restrictions on their freedoms under the right-wing ruling party, Law and Justice.

With military gendarmes ordered to monitor the crowds, protesters demanded the Polish government's resignation.

Protests against last week's court ruling also spread to other countries. People gathered at Poland's embassies in Stockholm, Lisbon and Rome in solidarity with Polish women.

Poland, a mainly Catholic country, already had one of Europe's most restrictive abortion laws. The ruling that declared it unconstitutional to terminate pregnancies for congenital defects amounts to a near-total ban.

In Warsaw on Wednesday, demonstrators marched from the office of Ordo Iuris, a conservative group that has been lobbying for years for a full abortion ban, to the parliament building, which was surrounded by police officers in riot gear. Large crowds also filled the streets in other major cities, including Krakow, Wroclaw, Szczecin and Lodz.

In parliament, Poland’s most powerful politician, ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, lashed out at opposition lawmakers, accusing them from the podium of inciting people to protest during the pandemic.

“You are destroying Poland, Kaczynski told them. “You are exposing a lot of people to death, you are criminals.”