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Polish Police: 15 Detained After Abortion Ban Protest

in WA police cordon guards the house of Poland's ruling conservative party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski against a crowd protesting a decision by the Constitutional Court, in Warsaw, Poland, on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. Polands top court ruled Thursday that a law allowing abortion of fetuses with congenital defects is unconstitutional, shutting a major loophole in the predominantly Catholic country's abortion laws that are among the strictest in Europe. Defying the pandemic-related ban on gatherings, the protesters chanted for the government to resign. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

in WA police cordon guards the house of Poland's ruling conservative party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski against a crowd protesting a decision by the Constitutional Court, in Warsaw, Poland, on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. Polands top court ruled Thursday that a law allowing abortion of fetuses with congenital defects is unconstitutional, shutting a major loophole in the predominantly Catholic country's abortion laws that are among the strictest in Europe. Defying the pandemic-related ban on gatherings, the protesters chanted for the government to resign. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Polands police said Friday they detained 15 people during protests in Warsaw against a court ruling that toughened the nations strict abortion law and banned abortion of fetuses with congenital defects.

WARSAW, Poland: Protesters vented anger Friday in Poland over a court ruling that declared abortions of fetuses with congenital defects unconstitutional, effectively narrowing one of Europes strictest abortion laws.

The hundreds of protesters who gathered in many cities defied a COVID-19-related ban on gatherings that was imposed nationwide.

Police vans were dispatched to guard the Warsaw house of the leader of Poland’s right-wing ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski. A protest also took place outside Kaczynski’s home after the Constitutional Court issued its abortion law ruling on Thursday, when police used tear gas and detained 15 people.

Opposition parties in Poland, the European Union’s human rights commissioner and international human rights organizations criticized the court’s decision, which leaves a pregnancy endangering a womans health or life, or resulting from rape or other illegal act as the only legal grounds for obtaining an abortion.

The ruling came in response to a motion from right-wing lawmakers who argued that terminating a pregnancy due to fetal defects the most common reason cited for legal abortions in Poland violates a constitutional provision that calls for protecting the life of every individual.

The court agreed with the lawmakers that an abortion predicated on the health of a fetus constituted illegal discrimination. The opinion approved by 11 of the government-controlled court’s 13 judges said that ending a pregnancy due to birth defects amounted to eugenics a 19th century notion of genetic selection that German Nazis applied in experiments.

Health Ministry figures for 2019 show that most of the 1,110 legal abortions performed in Poland last year were due to fetal genetic defects like Down syndrome, or to physical defects.

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first published:October 23, 2020, 16:33 IST