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Women-led protests against police violence planned in Poland

Women-led protests against police violence planned in Poland

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Women's rights activists who have led weeks of protests over a restrictive abortion ruling in Poland are calling on people to join nationwide demonstrations against police violence on Saturday.

The protests are scheduled to coincide with Polish women gaining the right to vote 102 years ago.

Weeks of protests against a high court's abortion ruling have evolved into the largest protest movement since communism fell 30 years ago. They began when the constitutional court ruled Oct. 22 to ban abortions of fetuses with congenital defects, even when the fetus has no chance of survival upon birth.

Poland already had one of Europe’s most restrictive laws, hammered out in the early 1990s between political and Catholic church leaders, their authority bolstered by a Polish pope, John Paul II, at the Vatican. It allowed abortions only in the cases of fetal defects, risk to the woman’s health and incest or rape.

Amid mass protests, the government has not implemented the ruling, a tactical victory so far for the Women's Strike, the movement that has organized the protests that have taken place in hundreds of Polish cities and towns.

The protests continue, however, as the activists now demand a full liberalization of Poland's abortion law and the resignation of the country's right-wing government.

Saturday's protest is devoted to calls to end police violence. It follows police using tear gas and other force against protesters earlier this month as tensions grow in the country.

Police have also been detaining and charging many of the protesters, who have been defying bans on large gatherings imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.