In October last year, Polish women stood in the pouring rain and freezing temperatures to protest a proposed bill that would ban abortion in the staunchly Catholic country. Ostensibly in response to international pressure, days later, the Polish government rejected the legislation, USA Today reports.
A newly proposed anti-abortion bill drew a similar reaction from many Polish women this year. On Jan. 17, women demonstrated in 50 cities around the country, donned in black — a nod to the 2016 march where participants also wore black, in solidarity.
If passed, the bill would ban abortions relating to irreversible damage to the fetus.
As it stands, Poland currently has some of the strictest abortion laws in the EU. Women can only have abortions in cases of rape or incest, a threat to the mother’s life or health, or severe damage to the fetus. This new bill would eliminate the “damage to the fetus” exception. Abortions due to a damaged fetus are the main legal avenue to termination in Poland. Out of the 1,100 legal abortions recorded in the last year, 1,042 were carried out as a result of a damaged fetus.
The bill — in 2016, as well as this year — was submitted by Poland’s Stop Abortion group. Poland’s constitution allows citizens to submit proposals that have garnered over 100,000 signatures.
Kaja Godek, a member of Stop Abortion, told parliament that prenatal tests to check the health of a fetus are being misused. According to parliamentary transcripts, Godek said, “Instead of treating and preparing parents and doctors to receive a child and help the child, it is being made easier to make selection for an extermination.”