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Poland Might Change Its Abortion Law But The Internet Is Fighting Back

The new law would prevent women from receiving an abortion unless they are dying.

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Poland already has one of the European Union's strictest abortion laws, but the country is considering new legislation that would basically amount to a total ban.

Kacper Pempel / Reuters

The new law would allow abortion only in cases where the woman is in "imminent" life-threatening danger, and it would otherwise punish those seeking abortions — and medical providers performing them — with five years in jail.

It could also make any woman who suffers a miscarriage criminally suspect.

Wojtek Radwanski / AFP / Getty Images

"There is a clear situation with the new proposal that it will lead to criminalization of women who had miscarriage," said Draginja Nadazdin, country director for Amnesty International in Poland. "This means that actually, every single woman could be suspected. This would be really a very, very dangerous legal change."

Nadazdin said those draconian consequences should have led to the bill's demise. "We would’ve expected it to be rejected immediately, without support for further discussion," she told BuzzFeed News by telephone.

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Poland's parliament voted on Friday to refer the new law to a legislative committee, keeping the possibility of the almost-ban very much alive.

Kacper Pempel / Reuters

The proposal has the backing of the Catholic Church; more than 92% of Poland is Catholic, according to the Pew Research Center.

The parliamentary committee will review the bill and make recommendations before referring it back for a full vote. But there's no deadline for its work, and in Poland, as in the US, bills referred to committees sometimes just die there.

The Polish parliament also defeated another, more liberal abortion bill on Friday.

Both proposals were "citizens' initiatives," which means they were drafted by citizens groups outside of parliament and supported by over 100,000 citizens' signatures.

The bill sparked a worldwide social media protest this week. People shared photos of themselves in black clothes with the hashtag ‪#CzarnyProtest‬ (black protest) — because "black is the color of grief," Nadazdin said.

Girls just wanna have fundamental rights. #CzarnyProtest

#CzarnyProtest how sad is the fact that we still have to fight for our bodies

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People expressed fear that new legislation could be harmful to women.

Law we talk about-not only puts women in prison for abortion but also for miscarriage as unintentional homicide #czarnyprotest

I say NO to prison for abortion, I say NO to #Poland where miscarriage is a crime #CzarnyProtest

This week's protests are only the latest this year.

Wojtek Radwanski / AFP / Getty Images

In April, in the capital of Warsaw, women took to the streets with coat hangers. There was another pro–abortion rights protest in June.

On Thursday, protesters dressed in black gathered outside outside the Polish parliament where the changes were being debated.

Protest in #Warsaw against the anti-abortion bill of #PiS government. #CzarnyProtest #aborcja #polska

The protest was organised by left-wing party Razem. The bill is supported by ruling right-wing party PiS and the Catholic Church.

Ani kroku dalej! Członkinie Razem Wrocław wspierają #CzarnyProtest. @partiarazem #NicONasBezNas #KobietyDoPolityki

"Not a step further! Member of Razem Wroclaw support #BlackProtest."

Rachael Krishna is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Rachael Krishna at rachael.krishna@buzzfeed.com.

Jina Moore is the global women's rights correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Berlin.

Contact Jina Moore at jina.moore@buzzfeed.com.

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