Monday, January 24

The European Court of Human Rights notifies Warsaw 12 cases related to the prohibition of abortion


The European Court of Human Rights has notified the Polish government of 12 separate cases that Polish women have brought against them for the right to abortion.

A near-total ban on abortions went into effect in Poland in January 2021, prompting mass protests in the country and convictions across the EU.

Legislation made it almost impossible to legally terminate a pregnancy in Poland, except in cases of incest, rape or when the pregnancy threatened the life of the mother.

On Thursday, the ECHR said it had received more than 1,000 complaints about the law change so far. It has now asked Warsaw to send its responses to 12 of them.

Cases against Poland

The plaintiffs are all Polish citizens born between 1980 and 1993. The court has divided their cases into three groups of four.

After the law change, they argue, certain Polish hospitals refused to perform abortions in cases of “non-lethal” fetal abnormalities.

One of the complainants, a 27-year-old woman, saying your partner suffers from a chromosome-related condition that puts your chances of a healthy delivery below 50 percent. If you get pregnant, there is a great chance that you will have a miscarriage or the baby will die.

As such, the woman said, the ruling by the Polish Constitutional Court and its irregular application in hospitals had had “a chilling effect” on her family’s plans.

Another woman, a 40-year-old woman undergoing IVF treatment, said she would not undergo a fourth cycle in Poland for fear of being forced to give birth if fetal defects were found. She described the situation as one of “mental torture.”

Most of the other complainants were pregnant or planning to start a family when the law took effect in January. But one woman said she had already traveled to the Netherlands for a hiatus after discovering that her unborn child had a rare but serious condition known as Edwards syndrome or trisomy 18.

His submission read: “The applicant alleges that she suffered stress due to the physical and psychological impact of her trip abroad for an abortion, despite the financial burden that this situation entailed.”

What happens next?

The 12 applicants say they are potential victims of a violation of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), due to the anguish caused by the prospect of having to give birth to a sick person. or dead child.

They also say that the Polish government has violated their rights under article 8 of the Convention (the right to respect for private and family life), because if they became pregnant, they could be forced to carry the fetus to term and have to adapt their live and behave accordingly.

The legal changes that took effect in Poland on January 27 this year were the result of a ruling in October 2020 by four judges of the Constitutional Court.

The plaintiffs also say the ruling was not “prescribed by law” because three of the judges were elected “in violation of the Constitution.”

The fourth, they added, was not impartial because it was among a group of 104 Polish MPs who tried to enact the same legislative changes in 2017.

The Polish government has until September 13 to respond.


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