Poland's parliament withdraws proposed abortion ban

Polish women take part in a nationwide strike and demonstration to protest against a legislative proposal for a total ban of abortion on October 3, 2016 in Warsaw.

Story highlights

  • Vote follows mass protest against proposed ban
  • Poland has some of Europe's tightest abortion laws

(CNN)Poland's parliament has withdrawn proposed legislation that would have imposed a near-total ban on abortion in the country.

Members of parliament in the lower house, the Sejm, voted overwhelmingly against the controversial bill by 352 votes to 58, with 18 abstentions.
The vote follows a nationwide strike against the proposed ban on Monday which saw thousands of protesters take to the streets across Poland.

    Goverment pledge

    The draft bill was the result of a citizens' initiative by the conservative think-tank Ordo Iuris, which gathered 450,000 signatures in favor of tightening abortion legislation, forcing parliament to debate it.
    The proposed legislation would have made abortion illegal in all cases, except where there was a direct danger to the mother's life. It would also have made abortion punishable with a five-year prison term.
    People attend the anti-government, pro-abortion demonstration in front of Polish Pariament in Warsaw, Poland on October 3, 2016.
    Speaking after Thursday's vote, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the ruling party -- the Law and Justice Party (PiS) -- said that although he was in favor of the "protection of life," he thinks the bill would have the opposite effect.
    Prime Minister Beata Szydlo also called for the protection of life during pregnancy and announced three pledges, including a new program to support families who decide to give birth to, and raise, children who have disabilities from "difficult pregnancies."