Polish Constitutional Court considers abortion right

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Warsaw | The Polish Constitutional Court is examining Thursday the right to abortion in this reputedly very Catholic country where access to abortion is already among the most limited in Europe.

The deputies of the ultra-Catholic nationalist party in power wish to suppress the right to abortion in the event of serious malformation of the fetus, one of the rare reasons still authorizing the women to terminate the pregnancy in this member country of the EU.

Many women and women’s rights organizations have already protested against legal attempts to toughen the law, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made mobilization difficult.

The Constitutional Court, reformed by the Government of Law and Justice (PiS), has since often been accused of having in its ranks a number of judges loyal to this party.

President Andrzej Duda had also in the past declared himself in favor of the new restriction.

The court’s decision in accordance with PiS’s wishes will restrict the right to abortion only to cases of danger to death for the pregnant woman and pregnancy resulting from rape or incest.

The NGO Akcja Demokracja (Action Democracy), said it had collected more than 210,000 signatures against the toughening of the law in force.

According to official data, Poland, a country of 38 million inhabitants, recorded in 2019 only around 1,100 cases of abortion, the overwhelming majority of which were authorized because of the irreversible malformation of the fetus.

According to NGOs, the number of abortions performed clandestinely in Poland or in foreign clinics could reach nearly 200,000 per year.

Earlier this year, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic warned Poland against further restrictions on the right to abortion.

Such measures “will result in a virtual ban on abortion, seriously affecting the rights and security of women in this country,” she said.

An attempt by the PiS government to tighten up the abortion law in 2016 was abandoned following nationwide protests by tens of thousands of women dressed in black.

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