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Polish police: 15 detained after abortion ban protest

Poland’s police said Friday they detained 15 people during protests in Warsaw against a court ruling that toughened the nation’s strict abortion law and banned abortion of fetuses with congenital defects.

Hundreds of people protested Thursday night in front of the ruling right-wing party offices and the home of its leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, in defiance of a pandemic-related ban on public gatherings. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Warsaw police spokesman Sylwester Marczak said Friday that 14 people remain in detention and 35 have been fined for having broken the ban.

A police cordon guards the house of Poland's ruling conservative party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski against a crowd protesting a decision by the Constitutional Court, in Warsaw, Poland, on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. Poland’s top court ruled Thursday that a law allowing abortion of fetuses with congenital defects is unconstitutional, shutting a major loophole in the predominantly Catholic country's abortion laws that are among the strictest in Europe. Defying the pandemic-related ban on gatherings, the protesters chanted for the government to resign. (AP PhotoCzarek Sokolowski)

They were protesting the ruling by the government-controlled Constitutional Court Thursday that declared abortion of defective fetuses unconstitutional, thus shutting a major loophole in the 1993 abortion law that was a hard-won compromise.

Health Ministry figures for 2019 show that most of the 1,110 legal abortions performed last year were due to fetal genetic defects like Down syndrome, or to physical defects.

Activists are planning more protests in a number of cities Friday and Saturday.

in WA police cordon guards the house of Poland's ruling conservative party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski against a crowd protesting a decision by the Constitutional Court, in Warsaw, Poland, on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. Poland’s top court ruled Thursday that a law allowing abortion of fetuses with congenital defects is unconstitutional, shutting a major loophole in the predominantly Catholic country's abortion laws that are among the strictest in Europe. Defying the pandemic-related ban on gatherings, the protesters chanted for the government to resign. (AP PhotoCzarek Sokolowski)