IMPORTANT NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS
On 13 December 2023, a new government, formed by the parties of the recent democratic opposition, was sworn in. FEDERA is open to cooperating with the new Ministry of Health, Education, Equality and others.
Two bills on abortion have been tabled in parliament. The first legalizes abortion on request up to the 12th week of pregnancy, while the second decriminalizes abortion. Based on media reports, one cannot be sure that these projects will be passed, due to resistance from parts of the ruling coalition.
Victory for FEDERA’s women lawyers at the European Court of Human Rights
In 2021, lawyers associated with FEDERA – Ms Kamila Ferenc and Ms Agata Bzdyń – brought the case of M.L. v. Poland to the ECHR. It concerned a Polish woman who was denied access to abortion despite documented fetal impairments. After a long diagnostic process and the collection of full documentation, there was no doubt – the foetus had an incurable genetic defect. The abortion procedure at the hospital was set for 28 January 2021. In the middle of the night, however, M.L. received a message from the hospital that the pregnancy would not be terminated, because the day before (27 January) the so-called Constitutional Court ruling K 1/20 came into force. In her deteriorating mental state, M.L. had to organise a trip abroad within a few days, leaving her family in Poland. In order to terminate her pregnancy, which only a few days earlier would have been performed for free in a nearby hospital, she had to travel to the Netherlands. She spent more than 5,500 PLN on this.
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg left no illusions in its decision: the interference with M.L.’s respect for her private life was unlawful under Article 8 of the Convention. The Court awarded Ms M.L. €15,000 in damages and €1,000 in compensation.
Another victory for FEDERA before the Patient Ombudsman.
The patient – Ms K. – found out in December 2022 that the foetus had a serious genetic impairment. This information broke her down psychologically. She therefore had a consultation with a psychiatrist and received a certificate that the continuation of the pregnancy endangered her mental health.
With the certificate and a referral from her doctor, Ms K. went to the University Clinical Hospital in Wrocław. Unfortunately, at the hospital, she was refused an abortion and admission to the hospital. At the hospital, she was told that the certificate could be challenged, so she should contact the provincial consultants. However, she was not given the contact details of the consultants. The patient then received a letter from the hospital stating “Pregnancies are not terminated at the clinic here”.
The FEDERA’s lawyer complained to the Patient Ombudsman on behalf of Ms K. The Ombudsman stated in his decision that: refusing to admit the Patient to the hospital, referring the Patient to provincial consultants, assuming in advance that a consilium should be convened without justification, and saying that her certificate from a psychiatrist ‘can be challenged’ without justification are a violations of the right to health services and to respect for dignity.
The expert appointed by the Ombudsman recalled that “the applicable legal provisions on the termination of pregnancy should be known to the doctors of the clinic and these provisions do not require the consultation or opinion of provincial consultants, the opinion of a specialist doctor is sufficient”.
FEDERA’s position on the decision to present charges to Dr Kubisa from Szczecin
FEDERA has prepared a statement on the criminal charges brought against Dr Maria Kubisa, a gynaecologist from Szczecin. Dr Kubisa’s case demonstrates the need for the immediate decriminalisation of abortion and therefore the repeal of Article 152 of the Penal Code. Leaving aside whether the doctor committed the act she is accused of it must be stressed that it is absurd and harmful to punish, for providing wanted help. As FEDERA, we are leading efforts to change the law in order to close in the history of Polish law the absurd time of prosecuting those who support women.
FEDERA’s new publications
Two new FEDERA publications in Polish are now available: Plan B w pigułce (Plan B in a nutshell) (on emergency contraception) and Z magii młodości do mocy dojrzałości: kobiece zdrowie bez tabu (From the magic of youth to the power of adulthood: women’s health without taboo) on women’s and girls’ health.