Opposition leader blames woman's death on 'in-human' abortion law

Andrzej Grygiel/PAP

Donald Tusk, the leader of Poland's main opposition party, Civic Platform (PO), has said that “ideology” and an “in-human law” were responsible for the death of a pregnant woman who failed to get an abortion.

The 30-year-old woman died in a hospital in the southern town of Pszczyna in September but her case came to light when a lawyer working on behalf of her family published details.

The woman had been admitted to hospital when her amniotic fluid broke in the 22nd week of pregnancy. Her foetus was also found to have defects.

Less than 24 hours after entering hospital she died of sceptic shock, and her family have blamed doctors for not terminating the pregnancy when they had the chance, which they say contributed to her death.

Her death has led to new protests against Poland’s abortion laws, which were tightened last year after the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that parts of the old law were incompatible with the Polish Constitution.

At a press conference on Friday Donald Tusk said that the government's "ideology" was to blame for the death, an ideology he said was the result of "fanatical ideologues" in religious lobbying groups.

"Responsibility cannot be put upon doctors, as we have seen done," Tusk added. "Doctors are in a sense also victims of this inhuman law and this inhuman and very ideological approach to the issue of pregnancy, the mother, the foetus."

He said that due to the Constitutional Tribunal ruling, which had prompted the near-total abortion ban, the patron of which he said was ruling Law and Justice party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, "actually it is the prosecutor, not doctors, that conducts the pregnancy."

"A doctor who wants to save a woman's life has to ask himself whether he will go to prison, whether Mr (Justice Minister and Prosecutor General Zbigniew - PAP) Ziobro will imprison him for saving a woman whose life is threatened," Tusk continued, adding that in the case of the woman in Pszczyna the matter was clear.

Tusk said he will take part in a protest on Saturday against the abortion laws, adding that he would attend not as a politician or as the leader of the opposition but as "a person, as a husband, father, grandfather," and would stand among all those "who believe that we can come out of this darkness."