Polish president backs limited abortions

2020-10-29 16:20:49 GMT2020-10-30 00:20:49(Beijing Time) Sina English

People protest in the northern Polish city of Gdansk on Wednesday against a ruling by Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal that imposes a near-total ban on abortion.

Polish President Andrzej Duda partially broke ranks with the country’s conservative leadership on Thursday and said he thinks women should have the right to abortion when they are carrying fetuses with fatal birth defects.

The view Duda expressed during a radio interview runs counter to the one held by senior politicians who pushed successfully for a ban on all abortions due to congenital abnormalities, leading to a week of mass street protests.

“It cannot be that the law requires this kind of heroism from a woman,” Duda told radio RMF FM. He said he still favors outlawing abortion in cases of fetuses with non-lethal congenital defects.

He spoke after seven days of nationwide protests following a court ruling that declared it unconstitutional to terminate a pregnancy due to fetal defects.

The ruling effectively bans almost all abortions in a country that already had one of Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws.

Once it is published and takes effect, abortion only will be legal in Poland when a woman’s health or life is in danger or when a pregnancy results from crime like rape or incest.

Deep divisions that had been brewing for a long time are now erupting on the streets, with young people heeding a call by women’s rights activists to defend their freedoms. On Wednesday night, men with a far-right group, All-Polish Youth, attacked women protests in Wroclaw, Poznan and Bialystok.

Duda’s comments were in contrast to his initial reaction last week, when he welcomed the court ruling.

“I believe that there should be a regulation which, in case of lethal defects, will unequivocally guarantee the rights on the side of the woman,” the president said.