Protesters stop traffic in Warsaw over anti-abortion court ruling

Matthew Day
·2-min read
The government has appeared taken aback by the strength of the opposition - Shutterstock
The government has appeared taken aback by the strength of the opposition - Shutterstock

Thousands of demonstrators gridlocked the centre of Warsaw on Monday night as part of nationwide protests against a court ruling that could result in a near-total ban on abortion in Poland.

The demonstrations on Monday evening, which marked the fifth day of protests across the country, piled increasing pressure on the Polish government.

Led by the socially conservative and pro-Catholic Law and Justice party, it appears to have been caught off guard by the level of public fury vented by the demonstrations that have taken place despite a massive spike in coronavirus infections in Poland.

Press reports in Poland on Monday suggested that the government may try and find some form of compromise to defuse the situation, although it remains unclear how it could do so.

On Thursday Poland’s supreme court found that a clause in the current abortion law permitting terminations when there is severe damage to the foetus was unconstitutional. This ruling leaves the government with little or no room for compromise, although it may decide to delay publishing the ruling, thus giving it more time to find a way out before the court’s decision becomes law.

The protestors have made it clear that they believe the government is using its alleged influence on the court as back-door means of introducing anti-abortion laws. By going through the court government has sidestepped, its critics claim, the public scrutiny and debate afforded to parliamentary legislation.

In Warsaw demonstrators brought chaos to the city by blocking main roads across the Polish capital, while dozens of other cities and towns across the country also saw protests.

Addressing some of the demonstrators in central Warsaw, Marta Lempart, a leader of the National Women’s Strike, the organisation behind Monday’s protests, made apparent the level of anger now being directed at government

 “You’ve come into our lives,” she said referring to the government. “You’ve come into our most private affairs, and you’ve taken our freedom away with a power that hates people and freedom. So don’t be surprised when you suffer the consequences.”