Polish Court Strikes Down Abortions Targeting Disabled Children

Anti-abortion activists attend a protest in front of Poland's constitutional court, in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. Poland’s top court has ruled that a law allowing abortion of fetuses with congenital defects is unconstitutional. The decision by the country’s Constitutional Court effectively bans terminating pregnancies in cases where birth …
AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski

Poland’s high court struck down a provision permitting doctors to abort fetuses on the grounds of congenital defects, saying the law violates the national Constitution.

In its decision Thursday, the court argued that aborting a child due to probable birth defects amounted to eugenics, an attempt to cull out the weak and undesirable in a society, notoriously practiced by the Nazis against Jews and disabled persons, and by Margaret Sanger in the United States.

Aborting an unborn child because of foreseen defects such as Down syndrome, the most common reason cited for legal abortions in Poland, violates constitutional protections of the life of every individual, the court found in its 11-2 ruling.

There can be “no protection of the dignity of an individual without the protection of life,” the court declared.

The court also ruled that conditioning an unborn child’s right to life on its health constituted a form of illicit discrimination.

The president of the court, Julia Przylebska, who was appointed to the court in 2015, announced Thursday’s verdict.

After the decision, the spokeswoman for the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) said new legislation would be introduced to better support women and their children that will be born as a result of the court’s decision.

Poland’s current legislation permits abortions when the mother’s health or life is in danger, or when pregnancy results from rape or another illegal act, or in case of expected congenital defects.

Only the last provision was challenged.

Predictably, Dunja Mijatovic, the left-wing Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe wrote on Twitter that it was a “sad day for women’s rights.”

“Removing the basis for almost all legal abortions in Poland amounts to a ban & violates Human Rights,” Ms. Mijatovic stated. “Today’s ruling of the Constitutional Court means underground/abroad abortions for those who can afford & even greater ordeal for all others.”

Archbishop of Krakow Marek Jedraszewski praised the verdict and voiced his “great appreciation for the courage and integrity of the judges and great gratitude to the initiators and participants of the great social movement, which stood up for the sanctity of every human life from conception until natural death.”


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