Thousands of Polish Women Strike, Defeat Abortion Ban
Deputy prime minister says they 'gave us food for thought'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2016 6:42 PM CDT
Mass protests Monday in Poland caused lawmakers to reconsider a planned total ban on abortion.   (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

(Newser) – It appears Poland won't be passing a total ban on abortion after all, the BBC reports. Deputy prime minister Jaroslaw Gowin says a mass protest that saw tens of thousands of women go on strike Monday "gave us food for thought and certainly taught us humility." The country's right-wing ruling party had been considering a complete abortion ban after a citizen initiative collected 450,000 signatures. The Guardian calls the Law and Justice party's sudden rejection of the proposed ban just weeks after recommending it "humiliating." One member of the justice and human rights committee who voted against the proposal Wednesday had just days earlier called people opposed to it "fans of killing babies."

While there's still a chance the proposed abortion ban will continue to be discussed in parliament, it appears dead. "Abortion will certainly not be banned when the woman is the victim of rape or if her life or her health is in danger," the BBC quotes Gowin as saying. And prime minister Beata Szydlo says the Law and Justice party "is not working" on the ban, NPR reports. Poland already has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. The procedure is only legal in cases of rape or incest, or when the mother may die, or when the fetus would be permanently damaged. Despite the initiative, a recent poll found only 11% of Poles want further restrictions on abortion. There are believed to be up to 150,000 illegal abortions performed in Poland every year.