Human rights court dismisses eight Polish abortion rights cases

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), citing a lack of strong medical evidence among other factors, has dismissed charges filed by eight Polish women who argued that they were denied access to legal abortion in Poland.

The ECHR's Thursday ruling concerns eight Polish women who argued that their human rights had been violated by a 2020 verdict by Poland's Constitutional Tribunal that banned the termination of pregnancies when the foetus had defects.

The eight women, born between 1980 and 1993, had argued in particular that they were effectively banned from having access to legal abortion in the case of foetal abnormalities.

The applicants had also stated that the abortion restrictions were not "legal" as the Constitutional Tribunal was not correctly composed and was not impartial.

"The ECHR found that the applicants had failed to provide any convincing medical evidence proving that they had been at real risk of being directly affected by the 2020 legislative amendments," the court wrote in a statement.

"The consequences for the applicants of the legislative amendments were thus too remote and abstract for them to arguably claim to be 'victims' within the meaning of the European Convention of Human Rights," the ECHR said in its unanimous decision.

The ECHR also said that there were about 1,000 similar cases awaiting its decision.

All abortion in Poland is now outlawed except when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or when it threatens the health or life of the mother, following a ruling by the country’s Constitutional Tribunal in October 2020.