The parliament in Poland has voted with an overwhelming majority to reject a bill that constituted an almost complete ban on abortion rights. The news comes after weeks of protests by women’s rights activists in Warsaw and nationwide strikes by many female employees.
The proposals laid out in the bill included 5 year prison sentences for those who bypass the new abortion laws. Doctors already face prosecution for carrying out an illegal termination in Poland, which has some of the strictest anti-abortion laws in Europe.
The new bill would have made it illegal to get an abortion on the grounds of rape or incest; making it only possible for a woman to get an abortion if her life was at risk.
Although an anti-abortion citizens’ initiative of around 450,000 signatures instigated the creation of the bill, the ruling government, the Law and Justice party, declined to sponsor it officially and gave the MPs a free vote.
In the wake of the bill’s rejection the Law and Justice party leader, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, promised to prepare an educative pro-life campaign. Although the party supports Catholic values, the topic of abortion is clearly one that divides it, as well as the nation, with many MPs being persuaded to vote against the bill as a result of the protests of their constituents.