Case P. and S. versus Poland
Another case is P. and S. versus Poland, decided by the Court in 2012. It concerned the case of a teenager who got pregnant as a result of sexual violence. She was 14 years old at that time, therefore the pregnancy came from a criminal act (sexual intercourse with a person under 15 years of age is a criminal act regardless of the age of the perpetrator). Despite the obvious entitlement to legal abortion and such decision of the girl and her mother, they were refused the procedure in several hospitals. Furthermore, medical confidentiality was breached and the name of the girl was disclosed to the public, which exposed her to attacks of anti-choice groups and priests. Additionally, the family court decided to separate the girl from her mother and to place her in juvenile shelter. The Court had no doubts as to how many human rights violations occurred in this case. Despite the fact that through a special intervention of the government the girl eventually underwent the abortion (in the hospital more than 400 kilometres away from her place of residence), the Court considered her status as a victim of violations and issued judgment in this case.
The Court stated clearly the violation of the right to respect for private and family life (Article 8) and confirmed the standard of jurisprudence established in the judgment in R.R. case in terms of violation of the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 3). The girl’s young age was taken into account here as this factor made her suffering greater and the behaviour of individual institutions even more cruel. The Court also identified an unauthorized imprisonment of a minor by placing her in isolation. This ruling does not introduce any new observations or the interpretations by the Court. What is critical and worth emphasizing, however, the Court referred to the standards established in previous judgments in cases against Poland, reaffirmed them and again pointed to the problems that Poland has to solve on the road to ensuring proper realization of the right to abortion. It was also explicitly emphasized that Poland must organize the operating system of the Family Planning Act in such a way that the right to legal abortion is real, not illusionary.