Women's movement prepares abortion bill

Marta Lempart made the claim as she and the organisation presented the draft of a bill legalising abortion until the 12th week of pregnancy, which they plan to present to parliament. Wojciech Olkuśnik/PAP

The leader of Women’s Strike, the organisation that has spearheaded mass abortion protests, has said that Poland faces a “nightmare moment” when a near-total ban on abortion “becomes a fact”.

Marta Lempart made the claim as she and the organisation presented the draft of a bill legalising abortion until the 12th week of pregnancy, which they plan to present to parliament.

All abortion in Poland is now outlawed except when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or when it threatens the health or life of the mother, following a ruling by the country’s Constitutional Tribunal.

The ruling, which was met with mass protests when it was originally made in October, was officially published last week, triggering more nationwide demonstrations.

"We're at an absolute nightmare moment, when a near-total ban on abortion became perhaps not a law but a fact in Poland," Lempart said, adding that women in Argentina "had fought for 15 years (...) and they finally did it: on December 30 last year Argentina legalised access to safe, free and legal abortion on demand."

Kamila Ferenc of the Federation for Women and Family Planning said that the proposed legislation offers terminations free of charge until the 12th week of pregnancy, without asking women for a reason, and beyond the 12th weak in case of foetal defects or the pregnancy being the result of a crime, such as rape.

However, the initiative has little chance of success in a parliament dominated by the conservative and pro-Catholic Law and Justice party, whose MPs prompted Poland's Constitutional Tribunal to issue its verdict last October.