Poland violated human rights of woman in abortion case, European court rules | Global development #Poland #violated #human #rights #woman #abortion #case #European #court #rules #Global #development

Poland’s 2020 abortion legislation violated the rights of a woman who was forced to travel abroad to access an abortion, the European court of human rights ruled on Thursday.

The court found that while the legislation, which prevented the applicant from accessing an abortion after her foetus was diagnosed with trisomy 21 (Down’s syndrome), did not legally amount to “inhuman or degrading treatment”, it did violate her right to privacy and family life, protected under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Poland was ordered to pay the applicant €16,004 (£13,800) in damages.

“We fought for this decision for every woman living in Poland,” Federa, a Polish woman’s rights organisation that had lawyers representing the applicant, said in a statement. “This verdict is a milestone and another argument that Polish law, which causes so much suffering for women in Poland, must change.”

The woman, known as ML in court papers, became pregnant in 2020. During the 14th week of pregnancy, the foetus was diagnosed with Down’s, and the woman was scheduled for an abortion in a Warsaw hospital on 28 January 2021.

However, a ruling of Poland’s constitutional tribunal – which criminalised abortions carried out on “eugenic grounds”, that is due to foetal abnormalities – came into effect just one day before her procedure. ML’s doctor informed her that due to the new legislation her abortion appointment was cancelled and that she would not be able to access the procedure at any Polish hospital.

ML then travelled to the Netherlands, where she terminated her pregnancy on 29 January.

“In her rapidly deteriorating mental state, ML had to organise a trip abroad within a few days, leaving her family and loved ones in Poland,” her lawyers said. “For an abortion, which only a few days earlier would have been performed for free in a nearby hospital, she had to travel to the Netherlands. She spent more than 5,500 zloty (£1,100).”

In its decision the court stressed that the European Convention of Human Rights was based on the principle of rule of law, but said that Poland’s overhaul of the judiciary cast doubt over the “lawfulness” of the constitutional tribunal that issued the 2020 ruling. Consequently, the court found that the interference with ML’s article 8 rights was not “in accordance with the law”.

“We expect the new Polish government to liberalise abortion law,” said Federa. “A return to the legal situation before the ruling of the Polish constitutional court is not enough – what is needed is access to legal abortion regardless of the reason.”

Donald Tusk became Poland’s prime minister this week, almost two months after a parliamentary election handed a majority to an alliance of opposition parties. His appointment puts an end to eight years of rule by the nationalist, populist Law and Justice (PiS) party.

#Poland #violated #human #rights #woman #abortion #case #European #court #rules #Global #development

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