People protest during a nationwide strike and demonstration against a legislative proposal for a total ban of abortion on October 3 in Warsaw. Photograph: (AFP)
A bill introduced by the governing party last month allows abortion only if the mother's life is at risk
Thousands of women protested across Poland today against a proposed near-total abortion ban, international news agency AFP reported.
Pro-choice activists took to social media to launch the nationwide "Women strike", asking women to stay away from offices and schools to attend protests.
According to the news agency, around 2,000 people rallied outside the headquarters of the governing rightwing Law and Justice (PiS) party in Warsaw.
PiS in late September went ahead with a controversial bill that would allow abortions only if the mother's life is at risk and increase the maximum jail term for practitioners from two years to five, in the devoutly catholic country.
The citizen's initiative tabled in the parliament by the 'Stop abortion' coalition would make women who terminate pregnancies liable to jail term but judges could waive punishment in their case.
The country's highly influential Catholic church approved the initiative earlier this year, even though its bishops have since then opposed jailing women.
"I don't like what the Polish government is doing to women," protester Jolanta Bienicka told AFP.
"Unfortunately, we're going in the direction of countries like Afghanistan and the worst countries in the world."
Protester Katazyna Goluch, a 17-year-old high school student, told AFP that "no one has the right to decide what I am supposed to do with my uterus".
"If this law comes into effect and I'm raped and I get pregnant, I'll have to give birth. It's the same thing if the foetus is deformed, so we just have to say no."
The current law, which was introduced in 1993, bans all terminations except in cases of rape or incest, the pregnancy poses a health risk to the mother or the foetus is severely deformed.
(WION with inputs from AFP)