Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski said more than 100,000 people attended, while protest organizers gave the number 150,000.
Police arrested 37 people on Friday night, most of them soccer thugs, Sylwester Marczak, spokesman for the Warsaw Police headquarters, said Saturday morning. Taking into account the huge number of participants, he added, it was a “very peaceful” protest.
Analysts say these scale protests were last seen during the Solidarity movement of the 1980s in Poland, which led to the downfall of the government, analysts say.
Protesters also appeared in Gdańsk, Białystok, Poznan, Kraków, Wroclaw, Torun, Sczescin, Myślenice, Gorlice and Jasło on Friday.
According to local media, 430,000 people attended more than 400 rallies across the country against Wednesday’s ban. Supporters online are using #ThisIsWar tag to show solidarity with the marchers.
Protests took place despite a ban on gathering of more than 5 people due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Aerial footage of the Warsaw rally posted to the social network showed the massive scale of the protest there on Friday night.
Protest organizers urge protesters to move towards the whereabouts of Jaroslaw Kaczyński, the leader of the ruling right-wing Justice and Law (PiS) Party, who many consider to be de facto decision-makers. in Poland. The demonstration ended there at around 11 p.m. local time and organizers urged the protesters to go home safely.
Kaczyński on Wednesday called the protesters “criminals” and said that those participating in mass gatherings are endangering people’s lives due to the increased number of coronaviruses in Poland.
While softening his stance, Polish President Andrzej Duda on Friday submitted a draft amending controversial law to legalize abortion in the event of a baby with “fatal malformations. “and will die shortly after birth.
The modification will mean that the abortion will remain legal in the event that “prenatal tests or other medical indications show a high probability that the child will be born or have a terminal illness or The disability leads to the inevitable and direct death of the child, “according to a statement from Duda on Friday.
“It is a very delicate and painful situation for every mother, for every parent. In the case of a fatal malformation, the child’s death is inevitable. its network is beyond human power, “the statement also wrote.
Duda had previously made clear his stance on abortion in such cases in an interview with Polish radio RMF FM. “You have to ask yourself if anyone has the right to claim, or the law might require such a woman to … carry such a child in her womb,” Duda said. set of physical costs at birth.
Duda added that he does not think abortion is legal in the case of a child with Down syndrome, and the unborn child’s life is at no risk.
Poland’s Constitutional Court ruling removed one of the few remaining grounds for legal termination in the country that already has some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe.
Abortion due to fetal defects accounts for about 98% of all legal abortions performed in Poland in 2019, according to data from the Polish Ministry of Health.
“If we are talking about verbal or physical aggression, if we are talking about church invasion, if we are talking about insulting religious affections, insulting places of worship, I’m sorry, but the boundary has definitely exceeded here, “he said.
Leaders opposing abortion rights have accused the populist PiS of prompting the court to tighten abortion restrictions to please party and Church foundations. Church leaders have denied influencing the law change.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Friday urged protesters to stay out of the way as he announced next steps to try to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“I understand your anger, but I expect you to stay home, especially for the sake of the seniors,” he said.
The measures include closing cemeteries for three days, urging business owners to let their employees work from home, and urging older citizens to stay at home.
Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told Polish news channel TVN24 on Friday that he seemed “very concerned” about the protests and urged people to isolate from participants, saying they could continue. contact with Covid-19 more.
On Friday, Poland recorded 21,629 new coronavirus infections, marking another record high in the country, where the number of cases had tripled in less than a month. Poland’s Ministry of Health reported 202 additional deaths, with the total number of confirmed infections in the country being 340,000.
CNN’s Zahid Mahmood contributed to this report.