October 7, 2016: Lawmakers in Poland voted on Thursday to reject a plan that would effectively ban nearly all abortions in the country after mass protests prompted some to reverse their position.
The decision came after a Polish parliamentary committee voted down the abortion ban bill on Wednesday and urged the majority rightwing parliament to follow suit when it voted on the bill Thursday.
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The full parliament voted 352-58 against the abortion plan.
Poland already bans abortion except in cases of rape, incest, a threat to the life of the mother or irreparable damage to the fetus. The rejected law would have made abortion illegal in all instances, with potential prison terms of up to five years for women and doctors who defy the law.
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Tens of thousands of women went on strike Monday, wearing all black and demonstrating in the streets of Poland’s cities to protest the proposal.
Jaroslaw Gowin, the minister of science and higher education, said that the protests “caused us to think and taught us humility,” The Associated Press reported. “There will not be a total abortion ban.”
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Poland’s influential Catholic Church initially gave the initiative its seal of approval earlier this year, though its bishops have since opposed jailing women.
The proposal to ban abortion came about after a nationwide signature drive garnered support from 450,000 residents, even though the majority of Poland’s 38 million residents opposed the plan. (VOA)