Although Poland already had some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe, the top court has further tightened the abortion laws, making it illegal to end a pregnancy due to fetal defects.
The Constitutional Tribunal made a ruling that means an almost total ban on abortions, and once the decision comes into effects, pregnancy endings will only be allowed in very the worst cases.
The government has been urged by rights groups not to increase restrictions, and the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights said that the day marked ‘a sad day for women’s rights’. This is what she wrote on Twitter:
Removing the basis for almost all legal abortions in #Poland amounts to a ban & violates #HumanRights. Today’s ruling of the Constitutional Court means underground/abroad abortions for those who can afford & even greater ordeal for all others. A sad day for #WomensRights.
— Commissioner for Human Rights (@CommissionerHR) October 22, 2020
MPs from the ruling nationalist Law and Justice party introduced a legal challenge against the 1993 law that permits abortions in cases of severe fetal disabilities, which accounts for 98 percent of terminations carried out in Poland. The majority of the court’s judges were nominated by the ruling party.
Hundreds of protesters marched toward the house of governing party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski following the ruling, and some carried candles and signs. The house was cordoned by police in riot gear, and the Warsaw Police said on Twitter that it reacted with pepper spray and physical force after the protesters threw stones and tried to push through the cordon.