Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo distanced herself and the government from a proposal to ban abortions after thousands of women went on strike Monday.
The ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) put forth a bill in September to only allow abortions in cases where the mother’s life is threatened. Women would face up to three years in jail for getting abortions, and pro-choice women around the country decided to hold a “Black Monday” strike in protest of the bill.
PiS holds a majority in both chambers of parliament, and the bill looked set to become law.
Some 24,000 women decided to not show up to work Monday with the aim of bringing the country’s economy to a halt. While the economic effects of the strike were marginal at best, it made Szydlo back away from the bill.
“I want to say it very loudly and clearly: the government of Law and Justice was not working and is not working on any law that would change the currently binding regulations,” Szydlo said at a news conference Monday, according to The Independent.
Poland’s Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, on the other hand, bashed the protesters methods and called for a serious debate instead.
“We expect serious debate on questions of life, death and birth,” Waszczykowski told the Associated Press before the strike. “We do not expect happenings, dressing in costumes and creating artificial problems.”
Between 1,000 and 2,000 abortions currently take place in Poland every year, while estimates on the number of illegal abortions range between 10,000 and 150,000.
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