Poland is heading for a further tightening of its already very strict abortion laws. The constitutional court in warsaw on thursday declared abortions for severe deformities unconstitutional.
This means that one of the last exceptions to the general ban on abortion in the strictly catholic country will be abolished. According to the judges, the current regulation violates the right to life guaranteed by the constitution.
The court decided by a majority of the members of the senate, announced the president of the constitutional tribunal, julia przylebska. 2 of the 13 judges issued a dissenting opinion. More than 100 deputies, mostly from the ruling party of law and justice (pis), had addressed the highest court with their criticism of the legal situation.
In 2019, only about 1100 abortions were performed in polish hospitals – in 97 percent of the cases due to the clause now declared illegal. Abortions remain possible after rape – or when the life or health of the mother is at risk.
Women’s rights organizations criticized the ruling. The number of illegal abortions performed using dangerous methods will increase as a result. Krystyna kacpura of the organization for women’s rights and family planning said: "it is cruel and contrary to human rights for women to be forced to carry a pregnancy to term when the cervix is severely damaged"."This is "institutionalized violence of the state against women".
The organization estimates that each year 120,000 to 150.000 polish women flee to neighboring countries where there is more liberal legislation. In germany, abortion is not punishable in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy if counseling has taken place and a three-day cooling-off period has been observed.
Doctors’ groups also protested against the court’s decision. It puts the lives and health of pregnant women at risk, it said. More than 900 doctors signed an appeal prior to the ruling.
The opposition doubts the legitimacy of the constitutional court. In 2017, the EU commission initiated sanctions proceedings against poland under article 7 of the EU treaties because it considers the rule of law there to be threatened. The previous abortion legislation was a compromise dating back to 1993, with which half of poles said they were satisfied in a 2019 poll.