Polish pro-choice protest leader charged, risks jail
One of the organisers behind mass protests against a tightening of abortion laws in Poland has been charged and faces up to eight years in prison, the prosecutor's office said Thursday.
Marta Lempart has been charged with organising demonstrations in breach of coronavirus restrictions, insulting the police and voicing support for attacks on churches, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office said.
"She faces up to eight years in prison," Aleksandra Skrzyniarz told AFP.
Lempart has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has refused to testify.
She is one of the organisers behind the Women's Strike movement, which has coordinated nationwide demonstrations over reproductive rights that have become anti-government protests.
The demonstrations began after the Constitutional Court in October issued a ruling imposing a near-total ban on abortions, except in cases of rape and incest and when the mother's health is considered to be in danger.
A new wave of protests started last month when the ruling was published, giving it legal force.
A predominantly Catholic country, Poland already had one of Europe's most restrictive abortion laws.
Until the most recent ban, fewer than 2,000 legal abortions were carried out in Poland every year.
Women's rights groups estimate that each year 200,000 Polish women either abort illegally or travel abroad for terminations.