clearn.png
Friday November 27th, 2020 3:16AM

Poles join strike as protests of abortion ruling expand

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — People across Poland stayed off their jobs and huge crowds poured onto the streets for a seventh straight day of protests Wednesday, enraged over a top court ruling that bans abortions in cases of fetal abnormalities.

Huge numbers of people, gathering in defiance of pandemic restrictions, vented their frustration about the abortion ruling and more broadly at perceived restrictions on their freedoms under the right-wing ruling party, Law and Justice.

With military gendarmes ordered to monitor the crowds, protesters demanded the Polish government's resignation.

Protests against last week's court ruling also spread to other countries. People gathered at Poland's embassies in Stockholm, Lisbon and Rome in solidarity with Polish women.

Poland, a mainly Catholic country, already had one of Europe's most restrictive abortion laws. The ruling that declared it unconstitutional to terminate pregnancies for congenital defects amounts to a near-total ban.

In Warsaw on Wednesday, demonstrators marched from the office of Ordo Iuris, a conservative group that has been lobbying for years for a full abortion ban, to the parliament building, which was surrounded by police officers in riot gear. Large crowds also filled the streets in other major cities, including Krakow, Wroclaw, Szczecin and Lodz.

In parliament, Poland’s most powerful politician, ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, lashed out at opposition lawmakers, accusing them from the podium of inciting people to protest during the pandemic.

“You are destroying Poland, Kaczynski told them. “You are exposing a lot of people to death, you are criminals.”

The nationwide strike and protests have been largely organized by Women's Strike, a women's rights initiative. They come amid a deepening standoff between angry demonstrators and Poland's deeply conservative government, which pushed for last Thursday's court ruling and has vowed not to back down.

Opinion polls show a majority of Poles oppose the constitutional court's ruling and the protesters have even found support from unexpected groups, including farmers and miners.

Another opinion poll on Wednesday showed falling support for the Law and Justice party.

“I am so furious! They have no right to decide about my life, about my personal decisions, about my future,” Julka Wojciechowska, 19, a student protesting in Warsaw, said. “They don’t understand young people. They don’t understand the world now, but they are trying to regulate our lives. We will never allow that.”

Daily protests since Poland's constitutional court issued its decision have exposed deep divisions in this central European nation of 38 million, long a bastion of conservative Catholicism and now undergoing rapid social transformation.

Rage over the ruling, which would deny legal abortions to women even in cases of fatal birth defects, has been directed at the Roman Catholic Church and ruling party leader Kaczynski.

Kaczynski has said in the past that pregnancies involving even fetuses that are badly damaged and have no chance of survival outside the womb should "still end up in a birth, so that the child can be baptized, buried, have a name.”

On Sunday, women entered Polish churches on Sunday to disrupt Masses, confronted priests with obscenities and spray-painted church buildings.

Kaczynski accused protesters of seeking “to destroy Poland” late Tuesday and called on his party's supporters to defend churches “at any cost.”

On Wednesday, people heeded that call, gathering outside churches and singing religious songs, in hopes of drowning out the obscenity-filled chants of protesters.

Some saw Kaczynski's words as an incitement to violence. The 71-year-old also holds the job of deputy prime minister in charge of police and security services.

Donald Tusk, a former prime minister and European Union leader who is a harsh critics of Kaczynski, called for the country's current leaders to step back from their confrontation with their people.

“Poland is the worst prepared country for the autumn epidemic wave in the entire European Union,” Tusk said. “While others were getting ready for the war against the virus, you -- for the war against the nation. Withdraw from it before some tragedy occurs.”

The conservative rulers have sought to depict the huge crowds of mostly young people led by women's rights activists as “fascists.”

“Left-wing fascism is destroying Poland,” read a Tuesday headline on state TV, echoing language that U.S. President Donald Trump has also used.

Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski on Wednesday vowed “decisive action” by the police “in the face of further attempts of similar acts of aggression and desecration announced by the leaders and organizers of the protests.”

He said 76 people were detained in connection with the protests at churches, and prosecutors are carrying out proceedings in 101 cases.

People have been taking to the streets in massive numbers even as the coronavirus spreads fast, with a record 18,820 new cases and 236 new deaths over the past day.

Polish President Andrzej Duda, who is in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, said last week that he supported the court ruling. However, his daughter Kinga Duda, appointed as an unpaid advisor to her father on social issues, said Wednesday that she could not accept it.

Kinga Duda said she did not agree with aggressive protests and vandalism, but that she believes that any woman carrying a fetus that could die within moments of birth should be allowed to decide what to do since she will be the one "to face the consequences of her decision for the rest of her life.”

___

Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health, AP World News, AP Health - Women's health
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Divided Belgium among Europe's worst virus hotspots
Small, yet so divided, Belgium has been hit hard again by the pandemic, and now presents some of the most worrying statistics in a continent reeling under the virus’ resurgence
3:09PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Millions of mailed ballots not yet returned in key states
Millions of mail ballots have yet to be returned in key battleground states just days before the presidential election
3:08PM ( 16 minutes ago )
The Latest: Biden will tell world leaders 'America is back'
If he wins the presidency, one of Joe Biden’s first moves will be to call foreign leaders and tell them “America is back.”
3:01PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Poles join strike as protests of abortion ruling expand
People across Poland have stayed off their jobs and joined protests as part of a nationwide strike called to protest a top court ruling that bans abortions in cases of fetal abnormalities
2:46PM ( 38 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump on Philly violence: 'Can't let that go on'
President Donald Trump is weighing in on two nights of clashes with Philadelphia police and store break-ins following the fatal shooting by police of Walter Wallace Jr. Trump was asked Wednesday about the violence while speaking in Las Vegas during a campaign swing through Nevada and Arizona
2:41PM ( 44 minutes ago )
The Latest: Biden to team up with Obama for Michigan rally
Joe Biden will join forces with his old boss, former President Barack Obama, for a rally in Michigan on Saturday
2:21PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Social media CEOs get earful on bias, warning of new limits
With next week’s election looming, the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google are being scolded by Republicans at a Senate hearing for alleged anti-conservative bias in the companies’ social media platforms
12:28PM ( 2 hours ago )
Poles join nationwide strike in protest of abortion ruling
People across Poland have stayed off their jobs and joined protests as part of a nationwide strike called to protest a top court ruling that bans abortions in cases of fetal abnormalities
10:37AM ( 4 hours ago )
Pompeo brings anti-China roadshow to Indian Ocean islands
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is bringing the Trump administration's anti-China campaign to Indian Ocean islands considered particularly at risk for what American officials allege is Chinese exploitation
8:59AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Germany heads into November 'lockdown light' to slow virus
German officials have agreed to a four-week shutdown of restaurants, bars, theaters and other leisure facilities in an effort to curb a rapid rise in coronavirus infections
2:19PM ( 1 hour ago )
Europe and US facing new round of shutdowns amid virus surge
Germany on Wednesday moved to shut down restaurants, bars and theaters all over again and France weighed demands for another nationwide lockdown as an alarming surge in coronavirus infections in Europe and the U.S. wipes out months of progress against the scourge on two continents
1:57PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: US to buy initial antibody doses from Eli Lilly
The U.S. government has agreed to buy initial doses of an experimental COVID-19 antibody drug from Eli Lilly that patients could receive if federal regulators allow it on an emergency basis
1:09PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Health
Hospital, residential areas hit in Nagorno-Karabakh fighting
Rockets have hit a hospital and residential areas amid deadly fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh that has raged for more than a month despite a U.S.-brokered cease-fire
2:08PM ( 1 hour ago )
Tanzania votes but 'widespread irregularities' are claimed
Tanzania’s leading opposition presidential candidate asserts that Wednesday's election saw “widespread irregularities" amid a massive internet slowdown
2:00PM ( 1 hour ago )
Belarus minister says police could use guns during protests
The interior minister of Belarus has warned that authorities wouldn’t hesitate to approve the use of live ammunition on protesters, if it’s necessary to quash more than 2 1/2 months of demonstrations against the reelection of the country’s authoritarian president
1:21PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP World News
Angry women block traffic across Poland over abortion ban
Women’s rights activists and thousands of supporters are holding a fifth day of protests across Poland after a top court tightened the predominantly Catholic nation’s already strict abortion law
4:48PM ( 1 day ago )
Women's groups lead more protests over Poland abortion law
Women’s rights activists are holding a fifth day of protests across Poland after a top court tightened the predominantly Catholic nation’s already strict abortion law
12:52PM ( 2 days ago )
Women's groups plan more protests over Poland abortion law
Women’s rights activists are planning more protests in Poland after a top court tightened the predominantly Catholic nation’s already strict abortion law
11:18AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Health - Women's health
Divided Belgium among Europe's worst virus hotspots
Small, yet so divided, Belgium has been hit hard again by the pandemic, and now presents some of the most worrying statistics in a continent reeling under the virus’ resurgence
3:09PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Millions of mailed ballots not yet returned in key states
Millions of mail ballots have yet to be returned in key battleground states just days before the presidential election
3:08PM ( 17 minutes ago )
The Latest: Biden will tell world leaders 'America is back'
If he wins the presidency, one of Joe Biden’s first moves will be to call foreign leaders and tell them “America is back.”
3:01PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Police: 7 taken to hospitals after Trump Omaha airport rally
Police in Omaha, Nebraska, say at least seven people who attended an airport rally for President Donald Trump were taken to hospitals
2:59PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Lawyers: Cop video doesn't show fatal shooting of Black man
Lawyers for two Black people who were shot by suburban Chicago police say police video shows their bullet-riddled car but not the shooting and that some of what was released suggests the officer who opened fire was scrambling to justify his actions
2:58PM ( 27 minutes ago )