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Polish Women Denounce Ruling Party Chief's Abortion Comment

FILE - Polish women shout slogans while raising a hanger, the symbol of illegal abortion, during a nationwide strike and demonstration to protest a legislative proposal for a total ban on abortion in Warsaw, Poland, Oct. 3, 2016. Lawmakers rejected the proposal.

Polish women who support abortion rights have called for new protests against the ruling conservative party's policy, angered by its leader's words that even badly deformed fetuses with no chance of survival should be born.

Women's groups said on Facebook that they would stage a "Black Protest" on Thursday in front of Law and Justice party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski's house in Warsaw and then hold nationwide rallies on October 24.

Earlier this month, women staged massive nationwide protests against a draft law that called for a total ban on abortion and a prison term for women terminating pregnancies. The protesters dressed in black in a sign of concern they could lose some of their rights. Days later, Poland's parliament, including many Law and Justice lawmakers, voted against a total abortion ban.

Kaczynski, 67, a Roman Catholic, said in an interview Wednesday that his party wanted to tighten the anti-abortion law to ensure that "even cases of very difficult pregnancies, when the child is certain to die, very deformed, still end up in a birth, so that the child can be baptized, buried, have a name."

He said that didn't include cases when the woman's health or life was in danger.

Opposition lawmakers said Kaczynski should let women decide for themselves.

"Please leave Polish women alone," Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska of the centrist Civic Platform said. "Let no politician try to arrange life for Polish women."

Poland's 1993 anti-abortion law, a result of a hard-won compromise with the influential Catholic Church, is among Europe's most restrictive. Termination of pregnancy is allowed through the 12th week only if the woman's health or life is threatened, the pregnancy results from crime like rape or incest, or the fetus is incurably damaged.

Law and Justice aims to remove the last provision, saying it leads to abortion of pregnancies of fetuses with genetic defects that cause Down syndrome.