15 detained after Polish abortion ban protest

15 detained after Polish abortion ban protest
A crowd outside the house of Poland’s ruling conservative party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski (Czarek Sokolowski/AP)

Police in Poland say they detained 15 people during protests in Warsaw against a court ruling that toughened the nation’s strict abortion laws.

Hundreds of people protested on Thursday night in front of the ruling right-wing party offices and the home of its leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, in defiance of a pandemic-related ban on public gatherings.

Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

A police cordon at the protest (Czarek Sokolowski/AP)

Warsaw police spokesman Sylwester Marczak said on Friday that 14 people remain in detention and 35 have been fined for having broken the ban.

They were protesting over the ruling by the government-controlled Constitutional Court that declared abortion of defective foetuses unconstitutional, closing a major loophole in the 1993 abortion law that was a hard-won compromise.

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

Activists say they are planning more protests in a number of cities over the weekend.

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