Thursday, 14 December 2017 04:54 GMT
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Polish pro-lifers want to ban 'eugenic abortion'

(MENAFN - AFP) Polish pro-life activists on Thursday tabled a draft amendment in parliament to tighten the Catholic country's abortion law, which is already one of the most restrictive in Europe.

The activists want to ban what they call eugenic abortion, or terminations carried out to eliminate potentially defective foetuses, often in pregnancies where Down syndrome has been detected during pre-natal screening.

"More than 830,000 people, a record number, have signed in support of the draft amendment," Kaja Godek, member of the Stop Abortion Committee citizens group, told AFP.

Poland's abortion law, passed in 1993, bans all terminations unless there was rape or incest, the pregnancy poses a health risk to the mother or the foetus is severely deformed.

The pro-life activists want to remove this last exception. Foetus deformations are the reason for 96 percent of all legal abortions in Poland, or an annual estimated 1,046 terminations, according to Godek.

Women's groups from the country of 38 million people estimate however that another 100,000 to 150,000 procedures a year are performed illegally or abroad.

There have been several attempts to tighten the abortion law since the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, which is close to the Catholic Church, came to power in 2015.

Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said in October that she would vote in favour of the latest bid: "I oppose eugenic abortion."

President Andrzej Duda also said he would sign the draft amendment into law if it clears parliament.

Last year the PiS tried to outlaw abortion almost completely, but buckled under pressure from tens of thousands of black-clad women who protested nationwide.

The parliament wound up rejecting the controversial bill that would have allowed abortions only if the woman's life was at risk and increased the maximum jail term for practitioners from two years to five.

Earlier this year the PiS pushed through a law making the morning-after pill available only by prescription, where previously the contraception method could be bought over the counter by people aged 15 and older.

Pro-choice activists for their part tabled a citizens initiative to liberalise the abortion law last month.

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Polish pro-lifers want to ban 'eugenic abortion'

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