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Poland

Women walk out of church as priest reads anti-abortion letter

The letter was read out as the Catholic Church in Poland launched its campaign in support of proposed legislation to ban abortion.

WOMEN WALKED OUT of a church service in Poland as protests against a proposed tightening of already strict abortion laws took place across the country yesterday.

The group left the Roman Catholic church in Gdansk as a priest read out a letter supporting the ban.

Kamila Chomicz / YouTube

The message from Poland’s Catholic bishops, presented at churches nationwide, called on lawmakers to back the proposal being considered by Poland’s right-wing government.

The move would tighten what are already some of Europe’s most restrictive laws on pregnancy termination. Current legislation, dating from 1993, already bans all terminations except when pregnancy results from rape or incest, poses a health risk to the mother, or if the foetus is severely deformed.

Pro-life activists support even tougher legislation but the move has sparked a backlash and thousands of marchers took part in a protest outside the country’s parliament in Warsaw yesterday, as well as in several other cities.

Poland Abortion Protesters raise hangers, symbolising illegal abortion, in Warsaw. Alik Keplicz / AP/Press Association Images Alik Keplicz / AP/Press Association Images / AP/Press Association Images

The proposed citizen’s bill – which needs 100,000 signatures for a parliamentary debate – would only allow abortion if the mother’s life was in danger and lift maximum jail terms for those carrying out illegal terminations from the current two to five years.

The head of Poland’s ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and Prime Minister Beata Szydlo both say they support a complete ban on abortion.

Feminist organisations estimate that between 100,000 and 150,000 Poles either travel abroad for abortions and undergo illegal terminations at home each year. Legal abortions in the country of 38 million people are limited to between some 700 to 1,800 per year.

Additional reporting by AFP

Read: Irish Pro-Life Campaign criticises Donald Trump over controversial abortion remarks

Read: Half of Irish people think freer abortion access should be priority for next government

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