A prominent Polish abortion activist has been charged with causing an “epidemiological threat” after organizing massive pro-abortion protests during the coronavirus pandemic.
The violent protests across Poland in October drew international attention after the country’s high court ruled that abortions on unborn babies with disabilities are discriminatory and should be banned.
Marta Lempart, of Women’s Strike, or Strajk Kobiet, helped to lead the pro-abortion protests despite strong restrictions on mass gatherings in Warsaw and other parts of the country due to COVID-19, according to the Morning Star, a socialist news website.
On Wednesday, Lempart was charged with multiple felonies in Warsaw and could face up to eight years in prison, if convicted, the AP reports.
Authorities said she caused an “epidemiological threat” by organizing the massive protests during the pandemic. Lempart also faces charges of “malicious obstruction” for allegedly interrupting church services and encouraging vandalism during a radio interview, according to the report.
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In late October, the Catholic News Agency reported about Lempart’s calls for more vandalism and violence during an interview with Radio ZET in Poland.
“Of course you should do that. You should do what you feel, what you think, what is effective and what they deserve,” Lempart said when asked about the violence.
During the protests in October, pro-abortion rioters vandalized buildings, disrupted church services, harassed Catholic Church leaders and politicians, and blocked streets in major cities. Nearly 100 people were arrested during the first week of protests alone, according to an AP report at the time.
According to the reports this week, Lempart said most of the misdemeanor charges have been dropped.
Poland is one of the few European countries that protects unborn babies from abortions in almost all circumstances. On Oct. 22, its Constitutional Court struck down one of the few exceptions allowed in its 1993 abortion law: abortions on unborn babies with disabilities. The justices ruled that the exception violates the constitution because it discriminates against human beings with disabilities.
The ruling could save thousands of babies’ lives. Polish health officials reported 1,100 abortions in 2019. The country still allows abortions in cases of rape, incest or threats to the mother’s life.
A “silent majority” of the largely Catholic country supports wide-spread protections for unborn babies, according to a recent AFP report. Evidence of this can be seen in polls and recent elections where voters repeatedly have elected strong pro-life majorities to parliament.
Recent polls indicate that the “devout Catholic country is far from turning pro-choice,” the report continued. These include an October poll by Kantar that found 62 percent believe abortion should be legal only in limited cases and 11 percent believe it should be completely illegal. Another poll by Estymator last fall found that 67 percent support the existing law, while only 19 percent want the country to expand abortions.