September 28, 2022

Rights court sanctions Poland in abortion case

The Polish government may have to revise its abortion legislation after an exceptionally tragic case in which a woman carrying a foetus with genetic abnormalities was refused an abortion multiple times.
unThe
Polish government may have to revise its abortion legislation after an
exceptionally tragic case in which a woman carrying a foetus with genetic
abnormalities was refused an abortion multiple times. The European Court of
Human Rights (ECHR) intervened in the case, charging the Polish government with
violating the woman’s rights under articles 3 (prohibition of inhuman and
degrading treatment) and 8 (respect for family life) of the European Convention
on Human Rights, in denying her timely access to prenatal tests to determine
whether the foetus she was carrying suffered from genetic abnormalities. 

She
was refused an abortion a number of times, and received a amniocentesis – the
sampling of amniotic fluid using a hollow needle inserted into the uterus, to
screen for developmental abnormalities in a foetus – so late in the pregnancy
that she was unable under Polish law to have an abortion. Abortion is legal but
restricted in Poland. She brought the case to the ECHR claiming that she was
denied access to the prenatal tests to which she was entitled, and therefore
missed the time limit for a legal abortion.

The
court emphasised that, as Polish law allowed for abortion in foetal
malformation cases, there had to be an adequate legal and procedural framework
to guarantee prenatal diagnostic tests.

The
facts of the case are unclear. It is plausible that a contributing factor in
the woman’s tragedy may have been a lack of a personal support network. The
fact that her husband left her after the baby was born is telling. It is not
clear whether she had been given counselling on bearing children with genetic
abnormalities. ~ European Court
of Human Rights, May 26
; Irish Times, May
30

 

Rights court sanctions Poland in abortion case
Jared Yee
abortion
law