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Poland abortion ruling: Protesters block roads across country

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Thousands of people have blocked roads across Poland on the fifth consecutive day of protests against a court’s near-total ban on abortion.

In the capital Warsaw, protesters blocked the main intersections, stopping cars and trams for about an hour.

Some carried placards with slogans like “I wish I could abort my government”.

The protests are considered unusual in a country where the Roman Catholic Church has great influence.

They follow a ruling by Poland’s Constitutional Court that ending the life of a deformed foetus is unconstitutional.

There were blockades in about 50 cities across the country on Monday.

The previous day, protesters disrupted church services and graffiti was sprayed on the walls of Warsaw churches.

The court ruling last week closed one of the few remaining legal grounds for abortion in Poland.

It means abortion is only valid in cases of rape or incest, or to protect the mother’s life.

Abortion is a deeply divisive issue in Poland. A 2014 opinion poll by the CBOS research centre found that 65% of Poles surveyed were against abortion, 27% saw it as acceptable and 8% were undecided.

However, for years opinion polls have found a clear majority against the latest tightening of the law.

There are just over 1,000 legal abortions every year in Poland, but women’s groups say the number of abortions carried out illegally or abroad could be between 80,000 and 120,000.

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