Polish women protest plan to tighten abortion law

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Polish women protest plan to tighten abortion law
Protesting women shout slogans as they protest against efforts by the nation's conservative leaders to tighten Poland's already restrictive abortion law, in front of the bishops residence in Warsaw, Poland, Friday, March 23, 2018. The placards read : Women's Strike. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Thousands of people took party in a women’s protest in Warsaw and other Polish cities on Friday to express their opposition to a new proposal to tighten Poland’s abortion law.

In Warsaw, they held banners including “Free choice” and “A woman is a human being” and chanted slogans demanding reproductive freedom.

Poland has one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe, allowed only if the woman’s life it at risk, the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or the fetus is damaged.

An attempt to ban all abortions in 2016 sparked mass nationwide protests by women dressed in black that forced the government to abandon the plan.

The proposed legislation would still allow abortions in cases where the mother’s life is at risk or the pregnancy results from a crime. But it would ban abortions of irreparably sick or impaired fetuses and those with Down syndrome.

In Warsaw, protesters gathered at the seat of the influential Roman Catholic bishops, who are urging the further tightening of one of Europe’s strictest anti-abortion laws.

They then marched to the parliament and later began moving on to the headquarters of the ruling right-wing party housing the office of party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

A protest of hundreds in Wroclaw included a sign that says “I will not give birth to a dead baby.”

The European Union’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, and U.N. experts are urging the parliament to reject the bill.

The proposal was brought by a civic organization and is now at the commission stage in parliament.