New anti-government protests broke out in Polish cities Wednesday, shortly after the country's top court confirmed its highly divisive ruling that will further tighten the predominantly Catholic nation’s strict anti-abortion law. The move by the Constitutional Tribunal, which means the ruling will come into effect as soon as it is printed in the official government gazette, was strongly criticized by opposition parties, the AP reports. Thousands of people gathered outside the court building in Warsaw late Wednesday, responding to calls for new protests by women’s groups that led to weeks of massive demonstrations last year against the initial Oct. 22 ruling.
The ruling right-wing Law and Justice party is widely seen as having undue influence on the judiciary following reforms it passed affecting the way judges are appointed. The Constitutional Tribunal was the first to have some of its judges appointed the new way, in 2016. The court ruling bans the abortion of fetuses with congenital defects, and critics argue that it narrows the already tight law to a near total ban of abortions. It was made in response to a motion from over 100 ruling party lawmakers, whose names have not been made public. Termination of pregnancy will now be allowed only if the woman's health is threatened or if the pregnancy is the result of a criminal act, such as rape or incest. Until now, congenital defects were the reason behind most legal abortions in Poland.
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