The Polish parliament has voted overwhelmingly to reject proposals for a total ban on abortion.
proposal had come from a citizens' initiative that gathered some
450,000 signatures, and it set out plans for abortion to be outlawed
even in cases of rape, with prison terms for women who ended a
But it was highly unpopular with most Poles,
sparking massive street protests by women dressed in black across the
nation on Monday.
members of the conservative ruling party Law and Justice had initially
supported the proposal, and two weeks ago a majority of parliamentarians
voted to consider it, sending it to a commission for further study.
But the party backed away from it under massive social pressure, and MPs voted against it 352-58 on Thursday.
mostly Catholic nation already has one of the most restrictive abortion
laws in Europe, with abortion only allowed in rare cases - rape or
incest, when the mother's life is in danger or the foetus is badly
The proposal had been supported by the church.
many women had voiced fears that the stricter laws could have led
doctors to be afraid to perform prenatal tests or that women who
suffered miscarriages could start to fall under criminal suspicion.
outcome of the vote is a blow to the ruling party, which has a core of
ultra-conservative Catholic voters that wanted to see further
restrictions to the abortion law.
the party also came to power thanks to centrist voters and young people
who were attracted by the party's welfare programme, with its promises
to help the poor and even out the vast economic differences of the
Many in that latter group have been
taking to the streets in recent days, and opinion polls show the party's
support has now fallen to its lowest point since it won elections a