January 27, 2021 – On Wednesday evening, Polish Constitutional Tribunal published a justification of the abortion-banning “ruling” issued on October 22, 2020. For the ban to come to life, the “ruling” still has to officially be published in Journal of Laws of the Republic of Poland. Although this has not happened yet, governmental officials have already announced that the act will be published later today (Jan 27).
“Ruling” of the Constitutional Tribunal found abortion on the grounds of “severe and irreversible fetal defect or incurable illness that threatens the fetus’ life” unconstitutional. If the ban is to be imposed today, abortion will become effectively banned in all cases, except a threat posed to a woman’s life or health and the pregnancy being a result of a crime. In Poland, a country of almost 38 million inhabitants, the National Health Fund registered around a 1000 procedures per year, 98% out of which on the grounds of fetal malformations. Therefore, the “ruling” imposes a virtual ban on abortion in the country. Poland is believed to have already had one of the biggest abortion undergrounds in Europe, with an estimated 120 000 – 150 000 procedures performed yearly, usually being either self-administered medical abortions or illegal surgical terminations.
The “ruling” violates very many provisions of Polish law and international treaties Poland is a party to. In particular, it fails to take into account the need to protect the inherent dignity of women and it violates the prohibition of cruel treatment and torture, the right to the protection of private life and the right to health. It is contrary to the Polish Constitution (in particular its Articles 30, 40, 47, 68 and the protection that these standards should provide to women) and to the obligations arising from the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or punishment of 10 December 1984, the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 19 December 1966 and the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 4 November 1950. Poland is a party to the above-mentioned conventions and it is unacceptable to lower the standards of human rights protection expressed therein through the national rules conflicting with them.
Federation for Women and Family Planning wrote about the ruling and its flaws extensively back in October 2020.