Poland has enforced an anti-abortion law causing division in the country, amid escalating EU doubt on the legality of its court system.
The law, banning all terminations except for cases of rape and incest or if the mother’s life was at risk, was to come into effect after Poland’s Constitutional Court confirmed its earlier verdict by publishing a statement of justification on Wednesday (27 January).
The original ruling, last October, prompted anti-government protests led by women’s rights activists up and down the Roman Catholic country.
Wednesday’s move saw a few thousand people hold a peaceful demonstration in Warsaw city centre.
It also provoked a harsh debate on Polish values and rule of law, indicating further turbulence ahead, however.
“The right to life is fundamental, because without life, no other human rights have meaning,” Bartłomiej Wróblewski, an MP from the right-wing ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, said.
“The state can no longer take a life away only because someone is sick, disabled, in poor health,” he added.
“It’s a step forward, firmly removing clearly eugenic abortion from Polish law,” Jerzy Kwaśniewski, the head of a government consultative body, Ordo Iuris, also said.
But for Borys Budka, the leader of the centre-right Civic Platform opposition party, Wednesday’s move was a “provocation” by PiS chairman Jarosław Kaczyński.
Kaczyński wanted to “set Poland on fire” with new protests to deflect attention from his mishandling of the pandemic, Budka said.
It was an act of “ideological war”, Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, from the left-wing Polish People’s Party (PSL), also said after Kaczyński recently referred to women’s rights campaigners as “evil”.
“An illegal act is becoming Polish law. We can support women in making heroic choices, but we can’t force them,” Szymon Hołownia, a recent Polish presidential candidate, noted.