The Polish parliament has decisively withdrawn proposed legislation aimed at imposing a near-total ban on abortion across the staunchly Catholic country. Following a nationwide strike on Monday, which saw thousands of people take to the streets in opposition to the controversial bill, members of the lower house voted overwhelmingly against it by 352 votes to 58, with 18 abstentions. Lawmakers had the option to either reject it entirely or send it back to a parliamentary committee for more consideration.
The bill was the result of an initiative by conservative think-tank Ordo Iuris, which gathered 450,000 signatures seeking the new restrictions on access to abortion, effectively forcing the parliament to debate it. Had it passed, the legislation would have made abortion illegal in all cases (except where there was direct danger to the mother’s life), carrying a five-year prison term.
After the vote on Thursday, Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Syzdio announced three pledges, including a new program that will support families who decide to carry to term, and raise, children with disabilities from “difficult pregnancies.”
The ‘Black Monday’ protests were modeled on a 1975 women’s strike in Iceland that saw 90 percent of the nation’s women take part in demonstrations.
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