Abortion demonstrators in Warsaw enter top court's grounds

Rafał Guz/PAP

Demonstrators forced their way onto the grounds of Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal on Thursday night during protests against the introduction of a near complete ban on abortion in the country.

Several protesters entered the Tribunal's premises and stuck posters of the Women's Strike, the organisers of the demonstration, on its door, but were quickly detained by police.

The Tribunal on Wednesday had presented a written rationale behind its October 22, 2020, judgment on the protection of life, which found sections of the old 1993 abortion law unconstitutional.

The ruling was later published in the Journal of Laws - a step necessary for it to take effect.

Under the new rules, terminations will be permitted only in cases of rape and incest, or when the mother's life or health is endangered. Doctors performing illegal abortions in Poland face jail.

Thursday was the second day of protests following the ruling’s publication.

Protesters also poured red paint and left fluffy toys on the street outside the Tribunal's building as an expression of the suffering of women whose abortion rights have been curbed.

The detention of a number of protesters caused anger among other demonstrators who demanded their release. They lit flares and poured paint over a police van.

Police at first did not prevent demonstrators from leaving, but then cordoned off the protest. Those who remained had to produce their ID cards before leaving, but some of them refused to do so saying it was illegal for police to demand identification.

The Constitutional Tribunal, prompted by MPs, mainly from the conservative ruling party Law and Justice, ruled on October 22, 2020, that abortion in the case of irreversible damage to the foetus is unconstitutional.

The tribunal's October 22 judgement sparked nation-wide mass demonstrations for several weeks last year by predominantly young people in all major Polish cities, but also in smaller towns.