Abortion referendum would have no legal impact - gov't spokesman

Mateusz Marek/PAP

A referendum on the right to abortion would not have any legal implications, a spokesman for the Polish government said on Tuesday.

Speaking to TVP1, a public television channel, Piotr Mueller said that a "classic referendum," as described in the constitution, "would not have any binding force because it would not change the constitution."

Poland has seen frequent, and often large scale, street protests after the constitutional tribunal ruled on October 22 that a section of a 1993 law permitting abortion when the foetus was suffering from severe damage was unconstitutional.

The ruling, which has prompted a furious backlash, means that almost all abortion in Poland is now illegal

A referendum, it has been proposed, could be one way of settling the issue.

The former leader of Civic Platform, the main opposition party, Grzegorz Schetyna said on Monday that a time may come "for all of us to express our opinion on this matter. I do not rule out such a path, I take it very seriously."

Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz, the leader of the Polish People's Party (PSL), has called for the tribunal’s ruling not to be published and for a referendum to be held on abortion after the coronavirus epidemic.

But Mueller also said that holding a referendum on abortion "unfortunately could heat up the atmosphere on the streets because respective social groups would use it to convince others."