- Title: Belgium's Polish community protests Warsaw's plans to totally ban abortion
- Date: 3rd October 2016
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (OCTOBER 3, 2016) (REUTERS) PROTESTERS GATHERED OUTSIDE EUROPEAN COUNCIL AND COMMISSION BUILDINGS PROTESTER HOLDING A SIGN, READING (English): "No to abortion ban in Poland" PROTESTERS MARCHING PAST EUROPEAN COUNCIL BUILDING PROTESTERS HOLDING A BANNER, READING (English): "My body, my choice" PROTESTER HOLDING SIGN, READING: "Polish women on strike" WOMAN HOLDING A HANGER, WHICH WAS TOOL TRADITIONALLY USED FOR ILLEGAL ABORTIONS, AND SYMBOL OF PRO-ABORTION MOVEMENT PROTESTERS HOLDING SIGNS AND BANNERS PROTESTER HOLDING A TODDLER MALE PROTESTERS DRESSED IN BLACK (SOUNDBITE) (English) 28-YEAR OLD PROTESTER, ANNA WOZNIAK, POLISH NATIONAL LIVING IN BRUSSELS, SAYING: "Now our parliament, Polish Parliament, is working on new abortion law which would forbid abortion completely in almost any case, just allowing in one case when a pregnancy is a direct danger to woman's life so it's very limited and it would exclude abortion in cases like rape or if baby or foetus is terminally ill or a woman's life is in direct danger. We do not agree to that and we consider it torture and we consider that it's a barbaric law from medieval and we don't accept it to be like that, that's why we came here today to demonstrate against it." SIGN, READING (English): "No to jail for abortion" WITH EU FLAGS IN BACKGROUND PROTESTERS HOLDING BANNER, READING (French): "My body, my rights, my choice" PROTESTER HOLDING HANGER-SHAPED SIGN, READING (Polish): "Black Protest" AND T-SHIRT, READING (English): "My body, my choice" AND SHOWING DRAWING OF FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM, WITH THE END OF FALLOPIAN TUBE IN SHAPE OF RAISED FINGER (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) 49-YEAR OLD PROTESTER GRAZYNA PLEBANEK, POLISH NATIONAL LIVING IN BRUSSELS, SAYING: "We don't want anybody from the outside to interfere in Polish matters because Poland should fix these issues on its own. But we want our parliamentarians who voted a more restricted abortion law to be fully aware that the world is watching us, that this is a violation of civil rights, because women's rights are human rights and women's rights are civil rights. We want our parliamentarians to realise this. We protest here at the seat of the European institutions and we will keep protesting until our voices are heard and until these solutions are introduced into law." PROTESTERS HOLDING BANNER, MARCHING PROTESTERS APPROACHING POLISH EMBASSY PROTESTERS HOLDING BANNER OUTSIDE POLISH EMBASSY VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS GATHERED OUTSIDE POLISH EMBASSY PROTESTER SPEAKING USING LOUDSPEAKER VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS CLAPPING, CHEERING PROTESTER PLACING HANGER ON POLISH EMBASSY SIGN, WHERE OTHER HANGERS HAVE BEEN PLACED HANGERS ON POLISH EMBASSY SIGN
- Embargoed: 18th October 2016 14:38
- Keywords: EU European Commission Abortion Protest Poland Polish Law and Justice party
- Location: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- City: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: Lawmaking,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00152GADS7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:"My body, my choice," was the message sent by several hundred members of Belgium's Polish community, who protested on Monday (October 3) against a plan by the parliament in Warsaw to introduce a total ban on abortion.
Mostly dressed in black, the protesters gathered outside the European Council and the European Commission, holding signs with slogans like "Polish women on strike" and toting hangers, a tool used in illegal abortions.
They continued the rally at the Polish embassy, located a few hundred meters from the EU institutions.
The demonstration was organized to coincide with a national women's strike in Poland on Monday, dubbed "Black Monday" by some Polish media because of the black clothes the protesters are wearing.
Legislation proposed by an independent group would forbid any termination, tightening Poland's already restrictive rules that allow abortion only in the case of rape, incest or a threat to the mother's health, or when the baby is likely to be permanently handicapped.
It is unclear whether the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government will back the draft law, introduced by the group Ordo Luris. But the possibility of new restrictions has stirred an intense debate in the staunchly Catholic Poland.
One of the participants at the protest, Polish national Anna Wozniak, said the introduction of the law is akin to bringing Poland back to the medieval period.
"We do not agree to that and we consider it torture and we consider that it's a barbaric law from medieval (times) and we don't accept it to be like that," said Wozniak, 28 years old.
Critics say the proposed rules would discourage doctors from conducting prenatal testing, particularly if procedures carry the risk of miscarriage, or put the life of women with an ectopic pregnancy at risk.
The draft rules allow for termination if a woman's life is in direct danger.
Another protesters, Grazyna Plebanek, said the law would shed a negative light on her country.
"We want our parliamentarians who voted a more restricted abortion law to be fully aware that the world is watching us, that this is a violation of civil rights, because women's rights are human rights and women's rights are civil rights. We want our parliamentarians to realise this. We protest here at the seat of the European institutions and we will keep protesting until our voices are heard and until these solutions are introduced into law," said Plebanek, 49 years old.
Poland remains one of Europe's most Catholic nations, with about 90 percent of citizens declaring allegiance to the church. But the clergy's sway over the heart and soul of churchgoers, although still strong in some places, has been waning.
Official statistics show several hundred legal abortions are conducted in Poland each year. But activists say many women are denied access to the procedure when doctors invoke a legal right to decline to perform it on moral or religious grounds.
Tens of thousands are done illegally, activists say, with many women crossing the border to Germany or Slovakia to obtain the procedure.
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