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Justice drastically reduces the right to abortion in Poland

Another blow to women’s rights in Poland. The Polish Constitutional Court on Thursday 22 October gave a very controversial green light to a further tightening of the abortion law, already among the most restrictive in the EU, by outlawing abortion in the event of a serious malformation of the fetus. However, the majority of abortions in Poland are performed because of a malformation of the fetus.

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This decision is a priori final, even if it is already contested by the liberal opposition and women’s rights organizations in this country considered to be deeply rooted in the Catholic tradition. Protests took place in Warsaw on Friday 23 October.

A “violation of human rights”

Court President Julia Przylebska said existing legislation allowing abortion of malformed fetuses was ” incompatible “ with the country’s Constitution.

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This decision provoked an immediate critical reaction from the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic. “Eliminating the grounds for almost all legal abortions in Poland is practically equivalent to banning them and violating human rights”, considered the Commissioner in a press release.

This decision “Translates into clandestine abortions or (performed) abroad for those who can afford it, and more suffering for others”, she insisted.

Satisfaction of the ruling ultra-Catholic party

In line with the wishes of the ruling ultra-Catholic nationalist party, Law and Justice (PiS), the judgment will restrict the right to abortion only to cases of danger to death for the pregnant woman and pregnancy resulting from rape or incest.

For its part, the Polish presidency expressed his “Satisfaction” of the judgment pronounced.

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“The views of the President (Andrzej Duda) on this matter are well known and have not changed. We express our satisfaction that the Constitutional Court has positioned itself on the side of life ”, declared the spokesperson of the Head of State, Blazej Spychalski quoted by the PAP agency.

On the other hand, pro-democratic and feminist organizations shouted out loud to ” shame “.

“Hell for women”

The main centrist opposition party, the Civic Platform (PO), has rejected responsibility for this “Hell for women” on PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski himself and on the Catholic Church in Poland.

Barbara Nowacka, one of the leaders of the PO, accused the bishops: ” It’s your fault. You have blood on your hands ”, did she say.

The leader of the European People’s Party (PPL) and former President of the European Council Donald Tusk joined in the reactions of indignation aroused by this verdict.

“Raising the issue of abortion and the decision of this pseudo-tribunal in the midst of the pandemic storm is more than cynicism. It’s political villainy ”, tweeted the former Polish prime minister.

1,100 abortion in 2019

The Constitutional Court, reformed by the government led by Law and Justice (PiS), has since often been accused of having in its ranks a number of judges loyal to this party.

According to official data, Poland, a country of 38 million inhabitants, recorded in 2019 only around 1,100 cases of abortion, the overwhelming majority of which were authorized because of an irreversible malformation of the fetus.

According to NGOs, the number of abortions performed clandestinely in Poland or in foreign clinics could reach nearly 200,000 per year. Many women and women’s rights organizations have protested against legal attempts to toughen the law, but the Covid-19 pandemic has complicated mobilization.

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