Poles protest at churches over near-total abortion ban

Thousands of people protested during mass at Polish churches against a court ruling, with some spraying slogans on the buildings and others stringing up lines of black laundry.

It is first time protests have been held directly at churches, both inside and out, in the predominantly Catholic country where the Constitutional Court ruling has now triggered four days of demonstrations.

The ruling that abortions due to fetal defects were unconstitutional ends the most common of the few legal grounds left in Poland and sets the country further apart from the European mainstream.

The leaders of the protests say that Poland's conservative ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), used the court to change the policy to satisfy the influential Polish Roman Catholic Church. The party denies that.

Church leaders have also denied wielding political power.