Tens of thousands of people have protested across Poland in defiance of coronavirus restrictions, after a near-total ban was imposed on abortion by the country’s Constitutional Tribunal.
The court announced that abortions due to foetal defects were unconstitutional, ending one of the few legal grounds for abortion, and setting Poland further apart from the European mainstream.
Thousands gathered near the house of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the ruling nationalist Law and Justice party leader, in an affluent Warsaw neighbourhood.
For the second night running, a cordon of police clad in riot gear blocked them from reaching his house, using loudspeakers to ask protesters to disperse and respect restrictions on public gathering.
Polish media estimates put the Warsaw protest at 15,000 people, despite restrictions that limit public gathering at 10 in the capital. That number is due to go down to five from Saturday.
Thousands also took to the streets in the cities of Poznan, Wroclaw and Krakow, footage from private broadcaster TVN showed.
Attempts by the ruling conservatives to curb abortion rules in recent years had ignited a public outcry, forcing the party to roll back legislative proposals.
After the tribunal’s decision goes into effect, women will be able to terminate a pregnancy only in the case of rape or incest or a threat to their health.
From Saturday, more restrictions to curb Poland’s spread of the virus are due to come into force, including a two-week shutdown of restaurants and bars, after new coronavirus infections hit a daily record of more than 13,600 on Friday.