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Women in Poland protest draft law curbing abortion rights

WARSAW – Paying lip service to COVID-19 lockdown rules, scores of women driving cars or riding bicycles in Warsaw protested Tuesday against a new effort by the conservative government to tighten already restrictive anti-abortion laws.

They oppose draft laws due to be debated in the lower house of parliament this week that would ban abortion of sick or deformed fetuses and penalize sex education in schools.

Similar proposed legislation was shelved a few years ago following mass protests. Critics say the government is now trying to revive these draft laws at a time when restrictions on public gatherings would render potential demonstrations illegal.

The protesters had banners and flags calling for women’s right to choice and for sex education in schools. Their protest held up traffic around a major downtown roundabout.

Police with loudspeakers urged them to disperse, as Poland's lockdown bans gatherings of more than five people, but no arrests or fines were reported.