EU Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli has condemned Poland’s constitutional ruling that effectively banned abortion.
“Those affected still need and wish to have abortions. This triggers a risk that such abortions will be performed illegally and possibly endanger women’s health.
“Women with disabilities, migrant women, those with financial constraints among others can be left more vulnerable. All women, girls and boys should have access to good quality healthcare, including sexual health services,” the commissioner said.
Dalli addressed a hearing in European Parliament today on the impact of measures and attacks on women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in Poland.
In October 2020, Poland’s top courts regressed its already strict abortions laws, ruling that terminating pregnancies in the case of foetal defects is unconstitutional.
The Eastern European state already had some of the strictest abortion laws worldwide, but even with this latest restriction, their laws are more liberal than the complete abortion ban that exists in Malta.
This is because pregnancy terminations in Poland are allowed in cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s health is at risk. There are no such exceptions for pregnant people in Malta.
The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights said the decision made it a “sad day for women’s rights”.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Dalli warned that the restriction went against Poland’s constitution and international commitments to human rights.
“This goes beyond abortion, it includes access to contraception, sex education, health information and treatment for STDs and fertility,” she added.
Around 1,000 legal abortions happen in Poland each year.
Around 98% of those terminations are related to severe foetal disabilities, so this ruling effectively bans abortion. The court decision comes after the state’s governing party, Law and Justice, presented a legal challenge to the 1993 law that permitted exceptions for abortion.
Dalli did note that abortion remains within each member state’s competence to legislate.
“Abortion legislation is up to member states. But they must respect fundamental rights which bind them to international law.”
While Dalli did condemn the situation in Poland, the commissioner has failed to extend the same sentiments to the more restrictive laws in her home country Malta. She only spoke out after retiring from local politics.
What do you make of her condemnations?
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.