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Have The Abortion Protests In Poland Worked?

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Photo: WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP/Getty Images.
On Monday, thousands of Polish women staged a strike in protest against their government's plan to completely outlaw abortion in the country, boycotting their jobs and classes and dressing in black.

Their strong show of unity appears to have worked, as a member of the Polish government today said the proposed ban now won't be implemented, The Guardian reported.

Jarosław Gowin, Poland's minister of science and higher education, said the protests “caused us to think and taught us humility”.

His comments suggest the rightwing government, led by the Law and Justice party, will now no longer support banning abortions even in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is at risk.

Stanisław Karczewski, speaker in the senate, the country's upper house of parliament, also said it wouldn't begin work on a bill that would further limit access to abortion and would wait to see what the more powerful lower house of parliament would do.

However, he said he supported a total ban on abortions of foetuses with Down’s syndrome, which is currently permitted.

The proposal for a complete abortion ban proved highly unpopular among women in the country, where abortion is already banned in the majority of cases.

Abortion is currently only allowed in cases of rape, incest, badly damaged foetuses or if the mother’s life is at risk, and in some cases doctors even refuse to perform legal abortions if they personally oppose the practice, reported The Guardian.

Like Irish women, who are often forced to travel to Britain for an abortion because it is illegal in the country, Polish women seeking abortions travel elsewhere to obtain them. They often go to Germany or other neighbouring countries or order pills online.

The anti-abortion movement in Poland, a deeply Catholic country, remains strong. More than 450,000 people signed a petition supporting the proposed abortion ban and Polish politicians voted against a separate proposal for more progressive abortion law, The Guardian reported.

The European Parliament will today also debate women's rights in Poland.
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