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Poland steps back from stricter anti-abortion law

Women gesture as people gather in an abortion rights campaigners' demonstration to protest against plans for a total ban on abortion in front of the ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) headquarters in Warsaw, Poland October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File photo

Kacper Pempe/REUTERS

People gathered in an abortion rights campaigners' demonstration to protest against plans for a total ban on abortion in front of the ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) headquarters in Warsaw, Poland.

WARSAW — After growing protests from Polish women and an embarrassing debate in the European Parliament, Poland’s governing party retreated Thursday from a proposed law that would have made virtually all abortions illegal.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the right-wing Law and Justice Party, said that while the government agreed with the intent of such a law, it opposed the version proposed by an antiabortion group.

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“Observing the social developments, we have come to a conclusion that this legislation will have an opposite effect to the one that was intended,” he said. “This is not the right way to proceed.”

Poland already has one of Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws, providing exceptions only in cases of incest, rape, damaged fetuses, and threats to the mother’s life.

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Three days after thousands of women and men dressed in black protested nationwide, 352 of the 428 lawmakers present in the lower house of parliament voted down the plan, which would have eliminated all of the exceptions but threat to the mother’s life.

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