Poland’s Top Court Tightens Near-Total Abortion Ban

Poland’s Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that abortions for fetal abnormalities violate the Roman Catholic country’s Constitution. Prior to the new near-total ban, the country already had some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe.  
After the ruling by Poland’s top court goes into effect, terminations will be allowed only in cases of rape, incest, or if the mothers health is at risk. According to The New York Times, the majority of legal abortions in Poland—1,074 of 1,100 that were performed in 2019— were due to extreme fetal abnormalities.  
Critics of the ruling say it makes access to safe abortions in Poland more difficult.
In justifying the law, the court said that terminating a pregnancy on the basis of fetal defects violates the Polish Constitution that protects the life of every individual.  
Two of the court’s 13 judges did not back the decision.   
The ruling, which cannot be appealed, is the latest decision by the Constitutional Court, which is dominated by judges appointed by the ruling nationalist Law & Justice party. The conservative party has vowed to return the country to its “traditional Catholic” origins, and it has rejected the European Union’s push for liberal, multi-cultural values.  
Reproductive rights groups held protests throughout the week leading up to the ruling, and they gathered in front of the courthouse Thursday morning prior to the decision. In a joint statement, Amnesty International, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Human Rights Watch said the proceedings have put the human rights of women and girls at stake.
Abortion advocates say the Constitutional Court’s ruling will force women to give birth to terminally ill children or to travel abroad to receive safe, legal abortion services.  
Similar efforts to push forward abortion restriction legislation fizzled earlier this year after the government was met with mass street protests. Currently, additional legislation aimed at restricting reproductive rights further is pending before Congress.

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