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1 Oct, 2016 15:35

‘Death of women’s rights’: Thousands march in Poland to protest planned blanket abortion ban

Thousands of Poles took to the streets of Warsaw to protest a controversial law that would introduce a complete ban on abortion in the country. Many of the demonstrators were dressed in black.

Hundreds of women could be heard shouting “My body, my affair!” according to Radio Poland. Meanwhile, some of those attending the demonstration unveiled placards which read “We are saddened to inform you of the death of women’s rights.”

Speakers at the rally said planned legislation that would make abortion illegal even for women who are victims of incest or rape or whose lives were endangered by a pregnancy would be “barbaric.”

Those who are found to have terminated their pregnancies are liable to be sent to jail. Those drafting the bill say they want to reduce the number of abortions in Poland. A petition supporting the bill to outlaw abortion has already gathered around 450,000 signatures.

“We will not allow our hospitals to be turned into torture chambers and our doctors into prison guards,” said one of the organizers of the protest, Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bak, a member of the left-wing Together party, as cited by AP.

However, an alternative petition by the pro-choice Save Women coalition has been signed over 215,000 times and says that women should be allowed to have an abortion up to the 12th week of a pregnancy.

A general strike by women is planned to take place on Monday, October 3 in protest against the proposed abortion ban. They want to cause disruptions in order to highlight their cause.

Demonstrations are planned in 60 cities across the country, with many companies in Poland saying they will support the rallies by not opening their doors for business, the Krakow Post reports.

Last year in June, Women on Waves, a Netherlands-based non-profit organization, launched an ‘abortion drone’ that dropped pregnancy-terminating pills in Poland. Taking off over the border in Germany before heading to the Polish border town of Slubice, it dropped two packs of mifepristone and misoprostol to two women, who took the pills when they arrived.

A survey published this week by Newsweek Polska magazine has shown that around 74 percent of Polish people are sticking to a third opinion – that the current restriction should stay in place without any changes.

Mass protests organized by human rights activists and women’s rights groups have been sweeping the country, while a number of anti-abortion groups in staunchly Catholic Poland have been staging their own rallies which have attracted thousands of supporters.