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Poland: Vote to amend law is a significant step towards ending 'cruel and draconian' restrictions on abortion


In response to news that Polish lawmakers approved four amendments to Poland’s abortion laws in a first reading in parliament today, Miko Czerwiński, Amnesty International’s Poland Head of Campaigns, said: 

“Poland’s parliament has taken a significant step towards ending the country’s cruel and draconian restrictions on access to abortion, which have had a devastating impact on the lives and health of so many people. 

“Poland urgently needs to amend its abortion law which endangers lives, jeopardises health and contravenes the country’s international and European human rights obligations.

“As these amendments go through to the next voting stage, it is crucial that politicians listen to the voices of civil society and those people directly affected by the near total ban on abortion and bring the law into compliance with international human rights standards.  

“Decriminalising abortion is essential to ensuring everyone who need abortion services, as well as abortion providers, activists and advocates, are not threatened with criminal consequences for accessing, assisting someone to access, or delivering abortion services.”   

Near-total ban on abortion

On 27 January 2021, a ruling by Poland’s discredited Constitutional Tribunal banned nearly all access to abortion by removing grounds of “severe and irreversible foetal defect or incurable illness that threatens the foetus’s life”. The ruling eliminated one of the only remaining legal grounds for abortion under Poland’s highly restrictive law and its entry into force means that there is now effectively a near-total ban on abortion in Poland. Previously, more than 90 percent of the approximately 1,000 legal abortions performed annually in Poland were carried out on these grounds.  

Under the current law, healthcare providers in Poland can only provide abortions if a pregnant woman's health or life is at risk or if the pregnancy results from a crime. However, providers often refuse performing even lawful abortions due to the “chilling effect” of the law.


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