Thousands of women protest in Poland demanding abortion rights

Mateusz Marek/PAP

Thousands of Poles took to the streets across Poland on Monday in a series of protests against the country’s strict abortion laws.

Last October, Poland's Constitutional Tribunal ruled against abortion on foetal-damage grounds, practically banning nearly all forms of terminations. Abortions are now permitted only in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother's health or life is endangered.

The ruling prompted a series of mass nationwide demonstrations that have presented a difficult challenge to the country’s government, led by the socially conservative Law and Justice party.

Monday's rallies, which coincided with International Women’s Day, were organised by the Women's Strike movement under the motto "Women's Day Without Compromises".

In Warsaw, protesters brandishing placards with slogans such as "I am a feminist warrior", or "This is war" gathered in the city centre, where they were confronted by a large police presence.

Protests also took part in a number of other Polish cities and towns. The Women’s Strike Facebook page listed a total of 40 demonstrations across the country at which protestors could vent their anger at the government.

During the demonstrations, the Legislative Initiative Committee "Legal abortion. No compromises" collected signatures for a civic draft bill establishing the right to abortion until the end of the 12th week of pregnancy, free of charge for the insured.