Poland’s top courts have 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”.
“Removing the basis for almost all legal abortions in Poland amounts to a ban and violates human rights.”
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.
Local pro-choice activists were saddened by this development.
“My dear Polish sisters, today my heart bleeds with you,” founder of Women’s Rights Foundation Lara Dimitrijevic wrote after the news broke. “Patriarchy has once again showed that women are nothing but mere objects, vessels, worthless.”
“I know that these are hard times, but together we shall continue to fight and battle side by side.”
International human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch decried the decision and said they would send independent monitors to assess the situation.
What do you make of the Polish courts’ decision?