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Poland: Parliament Moves To Liberalize Abortion Law Despite Protests

Warsaw, 30 August 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Poland's Parliament voted today to liberalize the country's abortion law to permit women to terminate pregnancies before the 12th week for social, financial or personal reasons.

The Sejm, the lower house of Parliament, adopted the amendments 208 to 61 with 15 abstentions. A number of deputies marched out in protest and did not vote.

A spokesman for Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said the president will sign the amendments to the country's 1993 abortion law.

Poland's powerful Roman Catholic Church and its political allies had mounted a campaign against the changes. Church leader Jozef Cardinal Glemp said earlier this week that there is no room in the church for anyone who supports abortion.

The anti-abortion law, which was in effect for three and a half years, permits legal abortions only in cases of rape and incest and when a pregnancy endangers the mother's life. The law has been widely circumvented in contemporary Poland. A similar parliamentary attempt in 1994 was vetoed by Kwasniewski's predecessor as president, Lech Walesa, a churchgoing Roman Catholic.