Protests against new abortion laws

Łukasz Gągulski/PAP

Protests are continuing in several Polish cities against new abortion laws which ban abortion due to foetal defects. In Warsaw protesters gathered near the home of ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Police cordoned off Kaczynski's house from the protesters and closed several nearby streets to traffic. 

Warsaw police spokesmen said police planned to mediate with the protesters and pointed out that their demonstration was illegal in light of current epidemic restrictions.

The protests in Warsaw began late on Thursday night. Several of the demonstrators pelted police with stones, to which police responded with tear gas. Fifteen protesters were arrested.

Similar protests took place in other major cities, among them Poznan, western Poland, Lodz, central Poland, Wroclaw, southwestern Poland and Krakow, southern Poland.

On Thursday Poland's Constitutional Tribunal ruled that laws currently permitting abortion due to foetal defects are unconstitutional. The ruling follows a 2019 motion to the court by 119 MPs from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and two opposition groupings.

Under current laws abortion is admissible in Poland if pre-natal tests reveal a high probability of irreversible damage to the foetus or its affliction with an incurable and life-endangering ailment.

Explaining its verdict, the court said that human life was of value in every development phase, and should therefore be protected by law.