Polish police use tear gas during new abortion protest

A fresh demonstration against the attempt to tighten Poland's abortion law resulted in minor clashes with police, while officers used tear gas against protesters, dpa reported. Several thousand people protested on Wednesday evening amid high police presence in central Warsaw.

The protest, organized by the Nationwide Women's Strike, was initially to take the form of a blockade of the parliament building in the capital, but during the day parliament was cordoned off by police forces. Forced away from the parliament building, the crowd started marching through central Warsaw and eventually staged a protest in front of a building of public television broadcaster TVP.

Tear gas was used in response to aggressive behaviour towards police officers, Warsaw police wrote on social media.

Emotions were running high also in parliament. "You have blood on your hands," Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland's governing social conservative party Law and Justice said towards opposition politicians, who voiced their support for the protest.

The Wednesday protests were yet another instance of large nationwide street demonstrations that have followed a late October ruling by the Constitutional Court. The court ruled that abortions carried out due to irreversible congenital defects - covering a wide range of conditions from Down's syndrome to fatal illnesses - were illegal under the constitution, effectively introducing a near-total ban. However, nearly a month later, that ruling has still not been published in Poland's Journal of Laws, a condition necessary for it to fully take effect.

Political commentators say that the ruling could not have been made without the consent of Jaroslaw Kaczynski. The anger of protesters concentrated mainly on Kaczynski, his party, but also on the Catholic Church which has always held a clear stance against abortion.

A legislative proposal that would partially overrule the court's judgement was submitted to parliament by President Andrzej Duda. Parliament has started working on it, but the draft is not on the agenda of the current session. Still, many protesters reject the president's proposal, calling instead for a broader liberalization of abortion law.

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