The nation, which already had some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe, will now only allow the procedure in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger.
The move to further restrict abortion had been pursued by the Polish populist government for months and sounded alarm bells among women’s rights activists and human rights watchdogs.
About 98% of abortions in Poland were performed as a result of fetal malformations, meaning the ruling bans virtually all ongoing pregnancy termination procedures in the country. It could force women to bear a child even if they know the baby will not survive childbirth, activists said Thursday.
Thursday’s Constitutional Court ruling marked the first change in Poland’s abortion law since 1993, but comes after a multi-year effort by the government to restrict access to dismissals.
“Removing the basis of almost all legal abortions in Poland amounts to a ban and violates human rights,” Mijatovic tweeted. “Today’s Constitutional Court ruling means clandestine / overseas abortions for those who can afford it and even greater hardship for everyone else. ”
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party has placed anti-abortion rhetoric at the heart of its socially conservative agenda and has attempted to pass a bill banning abortions due to fetal abnormalities in the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic.
The plan was ultimately abandoned in the Polish parliament, but has since been taken over by the country’s highest court. Law and Justice has spent much of his time in power tightening his grip on the courts, removing judges he deems politically objectionable, replacing them with what critics claim to be political appointments, and creating new ones. disciplinary action for judges who make decisions that ministers do not agree with.
“There is currently an effective ban on abortion in Poland,” Agnieszka Kubal, a sociology and human rights specialist at University College London, told CNN. “This has to be read in the context of the broader right-wing discourse on abortion in Poland, according to which women cannot have the right to choose. ”
The first attempts to restrict abortions through legislation drew women’s rights protesters to the streets, with massive protests taking place in 2016 and subsequent years. In April of this year, many activists used their cars to protest without violating Covid-19 restrictions.