Polish lawmakers debated a controversial proposal on Wednesday to ban nearly all abortions and criminalize those who teach sex to teenagers.
Poland already has some of the toughest abortion laws in Europe, allowing the procedure only in cases of rape or incest if the mother’s life is at risk or the fetus is seriously compromised.
Aborting compromised fetuses, which account for 98 percent of legal abortions in Poland, would be prohibited by law under the new proposal.
The other legislation calls for those who teach sex to teens to be prosecuted. Critics of the proposal say it’s tantamount to banning sex education in schools.
The proposals, introduced by Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party, would put the nation at odds with the European Union, but could energize more conservative voters to support ally and incumbent President Andrzej Duda.
“This is a gesture to the right-wing of the political spectrum,” said Anna Materska-Sosnowska, a political scientist at Warsaw University. “This agenda might divide the opposition and divert attention from the most important topics, which are health and economic issues.”
Some have questioned the timing of the proposals, as they were introduced just weeks before the May 10 presidential election.
Due to restrictions brought on by the coronavirus outbreak, activists against the abortion ban have taken their opposition online. An online petition against both proposals has attracted more than 700,000 signatures.
Thousands of other demonstrators, however, ignored coronavirus restrictions and rallied in the streets of Warsaw Tuesday.