WARSAW, Nov. 3 (Reuters) – Poland needs a period of calm to discuss a decision by the highest court to ban most abortions, a government spokesperson said after the measure was taken. not come into force on Monday as expected after two weeks of mass protests.
Widespread outrage among women and others has greeted the Oct. 22 decision that bans pregnancy terminations for fetal malformations, ending one of the few remaining legal grounds for abortion in a staunchly Catholic country with a deeply conservative government.
Although largely focused on abortion rights, the protests quickly turned into a wave of anger against the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government, its religious allies and traditionalist politicians. On Tuesday, two demonstrators undressed in front of the presidential palace.
The government publications department initially said the court’s verdict would be implemented by November 2, but it has yet to be published in its official gazette, meaning it has not entered into force. .
“According to the regulations, the judgment of the Constitutional Court must be published in due time,” government spokesman Piotr Muller told a press conference when asked about the delay.
“For now, however, we all need some peace and some discussion around this judgment, some calm in the public mood, and some expert discussion.”
President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, tried to defuse the protests by proposing a bill that would restore the right to abortion due to fetal abnormalities, although limited to only “fatal” defects.
Opposition politicians questioned whether the PiS could muster enough votes to pass the amendment, after parliament delayed a sitting scheduled for Wednesday by two weeks.
“… They have no idea how to resolve the situation in Poland, they do not have a majority in parliament (in favor of the bill), they are afraid to answer questions,” said the deputy. opposition president Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska. told reporters.
PiS lawmaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ryszard Terlecki rejected any suggestion the government lacked a majority on the issue, saying the postponement was linked to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Polish Federation of Women and Family Planning said on Tuesday that women had stepped up efforts to secure a legal abortion in recent days before the court verdict came into effect.
He said he was aware of 61 abortions performed in hospitals in less than two weeks since the Constitutional Court’s decision, an occurrence rate that would send the annual total well above that of 1,100 recorded in 2019.
Reporting by Alan Charlish, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Pawel Florkiewicz and Anna Koper Editing by Mark Heinrich