October 13, 2016 - 12:45 PM
WARSAW, Poland - Women and men who support abortion rights have staged a new protest against Poland's conservative ruling party, angered by it leader's proposal to prohibit abortions of badly deformed fetuses with no chance of survival.
Some 300 people gathered late Thursday outside the house of Law and Justice party Chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski. They said their "Black Protest," featuring black flags and angry chants, was a response to statements Kaczynski made in an interview Wednesday.
The 67-year-old Kaczynski, who is a Roman Catholic, said in the interview that his party wants to tighten Poland's already strict abortion law to ensure that "even cases of very difficult pregnancies, when the child is certain to die, very deformed, still end up in a birth, so that the child can be baptized, buried, have a name."
He said such pregnancies could be terminated, though, when the mother's health or life was in danger. He gave no timing for the new law.
"We are not birth machines," Anna Dryjanska, one of the protest organizers, said. "We are against attempts to treat women like objects."
It was not clear if Kaczynski was home during the demonstration, but light could be seen through drawn curtains in one window.
Participants said they hope that repeated protests would the drive the message home. Nationwide rallies on the ruling party's efforts to further limit abortions in Poland are scheduled for Oct. 23-24.
"As a young woman, I want to have the right to choice, to decide about myself and not be treated as an object," Julia Jeschke, 26, said. The ruling party's proposals "are denying me this natural right."
Earlier this month, women staged massive nationwide protests against a draft law that called for a total ban on abortions and a prison term for women terminating pregnancies.
Days later, Poland's parliament, including many Law and Justice lawmakers, voted against the ban.
Opposition lawmakers said Kaczynski should let women decide for themselves.
"Please leave Polish women alone," Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska of the centrist Civic Platform said. "Let no politician try to arrange life for Polish women."
Poland's 1993 anti-abortion law, a result of a hard-won compromise with the influential Catholic Church, is among Europe's most restrictive. Termination of pregnancy is allowed through the 12th week only if the woman's health or life is threatened; the pregnancy results from crime like rape or incest; or the fetus is incurably damaged.
The proposal Kaczynski discussed aims to remove the last provision, which the party says allows women to abort fetuses with genetic defects such as the one that causes Down syndrome.
News from © The Associated Press, 2016